“Years of anger”: Canada’s complaints with Loblaw get international attention

On May 1, thousands of Canadians began boycotting Loblaw stores to protest high food prices. Now, their concerns and criticisms of the grocery giant are receiving international media attention.

Most recently, the BBC published a feature titled, “Why Canadians are angry with their biggest supermarket,” highlighting organizational efforts by Milton, Ontario, resident Emily Johnson, who started the campaign earlier this year on Reddit.

“Canada is searching for an international grocer to enter its domestic market after years of anger from shoppers over high food prices, much of it directed at one of the big players,” the article begins.

Johnson, whom Daily Hive interviewed in January, created the subreddit Loblaws Is Out of Control in November 2023 to curate issues Canadian shoppers had with Loblaw-owned stores and the corporation’s monopoly in the grocery industry.

“I saw a post on r/Ontario of an $85 holiday planter at a local Real Canadian Superstore. It was a bunch of sticks and some ribbon, and this somehow justified the ridiculous price tag,” she explained in a news release. “Someone had commented, ‘Loblaws is out of control,’ and that inspired me to create the sub to call out this kind of practice.”

After seeing how frustrated Canadians were with high food prices, shrinkflation, and skimpflation during a cost-of-living crisis, Johnson and her team decided to organize a May-long boycott of Loblaw stores. It was exceptionally well received, and the online community grew expeditiously.

One person even made a website for those looking for Loblaw alternatives in their area.



At the time of publishing this article, the subreddit had close to 90,000 members.

It soon became apparent that people were more fed up than many may have initially thought.

On May 21, after consulting community members, the Loblaws Is Out of Control group officially announced it was “indefinitely” extending the boycott until a fundamental change is made in the grocery sector.

“[The boycott] has also ignited political pressure and scrutiny on the grocery practices of not just Loblaw, but other major grocers in the country,” BBC reported in an article on June 5.

The news organization briefly compared Canadian grocery prices to those of the UK and the US in the following chart.



The BBC article also looked into the possibility and challenges of Canadians getting more discount grocery stores in the future, such as European chains Aldi — Trader Joe’s in the US is a subsidiary of Aldi — and Lidl, headquartered in Germany with some 13,000 stores across the US and Europe.

“The classic mistake all foreign retailers make when coming to Canada is that they think it is the 51st US state,” Amarinder Singh, senior director at consulting firm Kantar, told the BBC.

He said that Canadians’ needs vary by region. For example, people living in Atlantic Canada have different grocery needs than people living in, say, British Columbia.

The report also discussed how Loblaw holds a monopoly in the True North. “Loblaw’s strong loyalty points programme covers 40% of Canada’s entire population,” it reads.

“The issue is how you engage the shoppers and how you steal the share from the Loblaws and Sobeys and Metros of the world, who have such a strong grasp on this market,” added Singh.

The day the BBC article dropped, Daily Hive published the account of a Loblaw boycotter who claimed she’d seen a significant drop in her grocery bills since she began to steer clear of the corporation’s stores.

In two days since, we have received multiple emails from other Canadians who echoed the same.

If you are one of those Canadians willing to chat with us for a future news story, email us at [email protected].

With files from Daily Hive’s Simran Singh and Isabelle Docto