Nestlé Canada is closing down its frozen aisle of pizza and meals over the next few months. Delissio, Lean Cuisine, Stouffer’s and Life Cuisine brands will no longer be available in Canadian grocery stores.
“(Nestlé) didn’t see how they could compete in the game markets. They probably have other priorities, so that’s going to leave a significant gap in the freezer aisle for months to come,” said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, food professor at Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.
The company says they want to focus on strategies and products that support long-term business growth instead, like coffee, ice, water, confectionary and pet food.
“My guess is that we’re likely going to see more private labels or privately labeled products in the freezer aisle for a while, until we see new products. It takes about two years to develop a new product in the food business,” Charlebois added.
The company does not manufacture in Canada so manufacturing facilities will not be affected by the move.
“It’s tough to do business in Canada because you have Walmart and Loblaws essentially intimidating the rest of the supply chain, including Nestlé,” Charlebois said.
He said the federal government is asking the industry to set up a code of conduct to offset the power and influence the big players have in the market.
“I think a code of conduct is a step in the right direction, but it may not actually go far enough. It’s up-regulated. It’s a government-coordinated industry-led code. I’m not sure it goes far enough.”
Global News spoke with some Saskatchewan shoppers who say they like the convenience that comes with the frozen family favorites.
“My children would have died without those back in the day. So I kind of feel for young parents who need a quick, easy supper that they won’t have access to now,” Susan Hadubiak said.
Margaret Moulten, another shopper, was surprised to hear the news since she buys Delissio all the time.
“We live in Regina Beach so we don’t have access to pizza places and stuff. So we buy frozen,” Moulten said.
Charlebois said the demand for frozen pizzas and meals will go up in the near future, “because prices are still rising and as prices rise at the grocery store, there’ll be more traffic in the frozen aisle. So grocers need to be ready for that.”