CANADA- Canadian retailer and franchise supermarket, Loblaw has announced its intention to sign the grocery code of conduct after six months of negotiations, provided other industry players also commit to the code. 

The grocery code of conduct was developed by a group of leaders in the Canadian food industry to level the playing field for small retailers and suppliers. 

Initially, Loblaw and Walmart Canada objected to the code in December, arguing that it would lead to higher prices for customers. 

Nick Henn, Loblaw’s Chief Legal Officer, explained,We felt that the words weren’t clear in lots of areas, and so we’ve spent some time with the working committee and the interim board, fixing those areas, improving the code and providing the clarity that we thought it lacked the last time around.” 

One of Loblaw’s main concerns was the dispute resolution process outlined in the code. The company sought clearer guidelines on when disputes, particularly those involving price negotiations between retailers and suppliers, should be addressed by an adjudicator. 

Loblaw warned that the initial lack of clarity could result in pricing challenges for consumers. However, the six-month negotiations have now provided the necessary clarity in these areas. 

Michael Graydon, CEO of the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada association and chairman of the interim board for the code of conduct, stated, We now have all the major grocers with the exception of one, and so some work needs to be done to bring them into the fold.” 

The negotiations and agreement come amid growing public support for making the code of conduct mandatory in Canada. 

The House of Commons has pressured Walmart Canada and Loblaw to agree to the conduct or risk having it imposed by law. 

On May 1, a Reddit group calling for Canadians to boycott Loblaw stores over high food prices and the company’s failure to sign the code went viral. Loblaw has denied any correlation between the boycott and its decision to sign the code. 

Once signed, the code of conduct is set to take effect on June 1, 2025.  

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