Food for Thought About Grocery Prices

An ordinary pinecone sits between the bases of two light blue candlesticks.

I’ll explain the pine cone in a moment. This post is about not all complaints about high prices being created equal.

Grocery prices are high, there’s no question. I’ve made my own comments about taking out a mortgage on a cauliflower. But let’s not confuse things, shall we? We have to eat or we die. We don’t have to buy decorations in order to breathe. So, how about just taking a deep, calming breath before getting all worked up over next-to-nothing.

Food Prices Hit Highs This Year

Loblaws has taken a lot of the heat over high grocery prices, and rightly so. It’s one of Canada’s biggest grocery chains, along with Walmart, Costco, Sobeys, and Metro. Loblaws’ former President Galen Weston Jr. made the colossal mistake – perhaps listened to the wrong marketing agency – and put himself out there as the company’s brand face and voice. It was like appointing Scrooge McDuck the spokesfowl for Ducks Unlimited. A silver-spooned elitist simply can’t relate to the everyday person. Everyone knows he’s got enough money to buy his own small country. We ordinary people just want groceries we can afford.

So, I’m not here to defend Loblaws. Recently, I popped into a Food Basics for a couple of items and saw boneless, skinless chicken breasts for exactly half of what I’d recently paid for the same size package in Loblaws. (Food Basics is owned by Metro.) Even if it was a loss leader, they proved it can be done. On my last big shop at my nearby Loblaws I spent $315 and got 0 PC Optimum points. Those points are a main reason I shop there. But I digress.

Sticks and Stones

A Reddit post showing birch sticks for ten dollars each at Loblaws.
Blog TO original post is HERE.

This image went semi-viral last week. Someone was outraged that birch branches were being sold for $10 at Loblaws. I don’t understand why this made them upset. (BTW the same sticks are 7.99 at Loblaws St. Thomas.)

Birch branches are not part of an essential diet. I’ve never had a blood test after which my doctor said, you’re deficient in birch branch. You must go buy one, no matter the cost, and gnaw on it immediately! Nor have I had anyone come into my home and say, you’re behind the times. Where is your birch branch? I can no longer be friends with you until you get one. (If that happened, I’d let the friendship go, anyway.)

Put the camera away. Go into the woods. Find a branch. Bring it home. Problem solved.

My point: a birch branch is not butter. It’s not eggs, or milk, or bread, or even cauliflower. It’s an unnecessary item at a stupid price that probably no one is going to buy. And if they do, well, that’s retail, folks. This is completely separate from suspected price gouging over things we have to have. Like food.

Having recently returned from Italy, I have to say I admire their approach to food. No cows near your restaurant? You don’t serve beef. It isn’t common to have something from out of the region shipped in at great expense. If a restaurant is on the coast, they’ll serve fish. Further inland, not so much fish. It is a philosophy that results in moderate costs and fresher food.

Lots of Activity – No Changes

The federal government met with representatives from all five major grocery chains to get their ideas and commitments on how to stabilize food prices. They came up with a five-point plan that includes price matching, freezing prices, and more, and say they will go into effect “soon”. It’s our right to roll our eyes until we see it happen. We are a nation beaten down by gasoline company collusion that we are powerless to do anything about. So, our cynicism is well-earned.

But to lose our minds over a birch branch? I see this as contributing to the problem. Muddying the waters with unrelated noise and clutter. It would be like complaining about the high cost of the gas station’s car wash, and not the gas. Pull out your damn hose and do it yourself! Your car doesn’t have to be clean to start and drive.

Now, the pinecone. I picked it up on a hike a week ago. It’s for sale at $250 with 3.49% financing. It’s a free market system so let’s see who wants my fresh pinecone. If nobody does, I’ll just pack it away until next year and try to charge even more.

11 thoughts on “Food for Thought About Grocery Prices”

  1. Nice looking pine cone, you should send that photo to Galen Weston and see if he wants to buy it. 🤣. Seriously though, good post. A little planning when buying food can go a long way. Meat is the worst. I never buy beef at the grocery store, it’s overpriced and shoe leather is probably more tender. I’ll go to the meat market in town or at the Western Fair market.

  2. My grocery bill has really jumped: a jar of jam, was $5.99 now $8.99; 900+ G of coffee was $15.99 now $25.49 and 11.5 G bag of dog food was $44.99 now $59.99. Fortunately the delivery service I use has free delivery for seniors and the disabled during the week. Every little bit helps.

    I understand the concept of supply and demand and the various inputs involved in the food chain and no government has any ability to alter, change or influence them, it’s just a photo op.

    1. The amounts of those price increases don’t reflect supply and demand. That’s just obscene.

      People are awfully pissed off at the grocery chains. Even if they do a few things to hold prices on staples, it will be a win. The government simply called them together and said “do something”. It’s on them, not the government.

  3. Oh, my gosh what a topic today, Lisa. My husband and I are retired and have a comfortable living style. Hubby is the grocery shopper in the house and price compares very frugally but we have our “luxuries” and can afford to indulge. I look at my sons and their families that include 5 kids between them and shudder to think what they spend. I think grocery stores should be required to keep the cost of fruits, vegetables, grain products(bread, cereal, pasta) and dairy at a more affordable level. Kids need the right foods to grow properly. Affordable food and proper diet lead to better health which can lead to fewer visits to an overwhelmed healthcare system. But that’s another can of worms! And, yes, I agree. People, get your birch branches out in the woods. The walk and fresh air will do you good😊

    1. You allude to a good point about prevention rather than trying to deal with illnesses after the fact. Sigh. We must keep reminding ourselves that our standard of living and our health care system are envied around the world. From afar! Not trying to see a specialist you have to wait a year to see….but I digress.

      1. My husband and my grandson went for a hike two weekends ago, looking for a pinecone for an experiment. Plant the pinecone in some soil, water it a little every day, and a lil tree will grow out of the top of the pinecone. My grandson is 5 and very curious as to how the world works. Sadly they couldn’t find a pinecone 😞 So I will buy your pinecone ( cuz I’m that gramma🥰) But I can only afford to pay $100 and financing at 2%. These are tough times for pinecones. And for lil boys wanting to figure out how the world works.

        1. I would make a terrible CEO because I want to GIVE you a pinecone (not THE pinecone) and hopefully get reports on how it grows!

  4. I wonder if someone complained about the price of birch branches if Weston (or his replacement) would say, “You can blame the global birch-branch supply chain.”

    And if you want good Italian food, marry an Italian, like I did!

  5. I am so frustrated by a cheaper price if you buy 2 or more of an item. I am a senior on a fixed income & live by myself, so I don’t want to buy more of an item just to save a few pennies. I recommend checking out prices on Flipp. I find a lot of information from this site – it’s so handy. Thank goodness for freezers so you can stock up, if possible, when an item goes on sale.

    1. I’m with you on that, Pam. There’s only so much cupboard space. This is one of the reasons we gave up on Costco. No room for stuff. And like you, two of us can only eat so much.

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