'They should shoplift even more': Some Canadians stealing high-priced food from grocery stores

Soaring grocery prices across Canada are forcing many to change their habits, and some aren't afraid to brag.

Some Canadians are shoplifting high-priced food items from grocery stores as the cost of living continues climbing, with a few even taking to social media to brag.

Last week, Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois wrote about the impact of grocery store theft.

"Grocery theft has always been a major problem, but with food inflation as it is, shopkeepers now fear the wrongdoers more than before," the Halifax-based Agri-Food Analytics Lab director wrote in an article published on Jan. 10.

"According to some industry data, an average-sized food retail store in Canada can have between $2,000 and $5,000 worth of groceries stolen per week. With the relatively narrow profit margins in grocery, this amount is huge. To cover losses, grocers need to raise prices, so in the end, we all pay for grocery theft."

Twitter users weren't happy with Charlebois' words, with some proudly admitting they shoplift and others repeating the phrase, "If you see someone shoplifting, no you didn't."

Charlebois eventually responded to some of the online backlash, standing firm on his position on grocery theft.

"You think it is appropriate to shoplift while grocery shopping, just because you think food prices are too high? Crazy," he wrote, while retweeting another Twitter user.

Since being tweeted on Jan. 10, Charlebois' tweet has gained more than seven million views and hundreds of responses, the majority of which expressed disagreement with his stance.

Some people online have also called out Charlebois personally, revealing his income and saying he "shills" for Loblaw Companies Ltd. and Galen Weston's family.

The outrage over soaring grocery prices has been a hot topic as inflation continues to impact Canadians.

Earlier in January, a picture of a pack of chicken breast at a Loblaw in Toronto went viral, as people expressed outrage over its high-priced label.

The photo, taken by CTV News reporter Siobhan Morris, showed that a five-piece pack of chicken was selling for nearly $27/kg.

In November, both Loblaw and Metro reported growth in sales and profit, but shared they were pushing back against suppliers' continued price increases.

Research from Dalhousie University also showed that Canada's top three grocery companies — Loblaw, Metro and Empire — made higher profits in 2022 compared with their average performances over the last five years.

Notably, Loblaw outperformed its five-year average performance but also did better than any of those years individually.

Food is becoming a concern for many Canadians, as a family of four is expected to spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023. (Photo by Chris Stoodley/Yahoo News Canada)
Food is becoming a concern for many Canadians, as a family of four is expected to spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023. (Photo by Chris Stoodley/Yahoo News Canada)

According to a food report released in December, a Canadian family of four will spend around $1,066 more on groceries in 2023, with food prices set to increase by up to 7 per cent from last year.

"In 2023, it is expected that Canadians will continue to feel the effects of high food inflation, and food insecurity and affordability will also be a big issue with rising food prices," the Canada Food Price report indicated.

"Canadians will still need to be prepared to spend more in the coming year."