February 23, 2016 10:33 am
Updated: February 24, 2016 10:20 am

Grocery Grind: Grocery stores lower produce prices amid oilpatch layoffs

WATCH: Big box grocers are taking action on higher food prices, including launching a produce price saving campaign. Dallas Flexhaug has details.


While oil prices have plunged, food prices across Canada have spiked. It’s a combination challenging for thousands of Albertans who are struggling to keep up. During our three-part Grocery Grind series, Dallas Flexhaug examines how much more we’re paying at the supermarket, and how it’s impacting both consumers and retailers.

Calgarian John Rennie lost his job in the oil industry two months ago and says his life has changed significantly since then.

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Rennie, now unemployed, is finding it harder and harder to feed his family.

Grocery Grind: Albertans forced to change grocery habits amid economic downturn

It’s a struggle that big-name grocers are hearing more frequently, and some are even taking action to help. Sobeys Inc. recently launched a campaign at Safeway and Sobeys stores across western Canada vowing to slash produce prices.

“There is a conscious lower-pricing strategy that we’ve implemented,” Sobeys Inc. spokesperson Keri Scobie said. “Things like organic bananas might have been $1.19 a pound… they are 79 cents or 89 cents a pound now, and these are everyday low prices that our customers can trust.”

“Those everyday items that people buy most – whether it’s iceberg lettuce, whether it’s apples, whether it’s cauliflower – those prices have come down.”

Sobeys Inc. said it took over a million flyers out of circulation to help pay for the changes.

Grocery Grind: How spiking food prices have impacted Albertans

Meanwhile, University of Calgary Food Studies instructor Lisa Stowe said other grocers also appear to be promoting their cost-cutting measures.

“It surprises me a little bit,” Stowe said. “I’ve never really seen them react that way before.”

“I could be cynical, and say it’s in their businesses best interest, because people are going to stop shopping if prices really escalate,” Stowe added.

“Maybe people at the supermarket level are aware that consumers need some help.”

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