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What is the grocery code of conduct, and will it help to lower the cost of food?

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Canada's first-ever grocery code of conduct is in the last stages of development, as businesses and experts wait for the final copy.

The grocery code of conduct, being developed by the Grocery Industry Code of Conduct Steering Committee, was created to support fairness and transparency in the grocery sector and to create a hub of information allowing Canadians better access to the prices of food.

Gary Sands, Senior Vice-President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, said he believes the code will be a benefit to Canadians.

"The grocery code of conduct that we hope to be finalizing today is a voluntary industry-developed code with a straightforward set of principles of good behaviour in the marketplace," Sands told CTV's Your Morning on Monday. "We think this will help contribute to commercial certainty and more fairness about what you can do."

For example, Sands said, the grocers that agree to the code of conduct would not be able to "impose unilateral charges" on a company to help pay for items like store renovations or e-commerce.

Having this code, according to Sands, would also help bring down the cost of food.

"I can't say how much we would see a drop because there are a number of factors that of course contribute to food prices," he said. "There's no doubt when you provide more stability in the marketplace, more costs are reduced, that's obviously going to have a positive impact on pricing."

Walmart Canada and Loblaw Companies Ltd., are pushing back against the code and have said it could "raise food prices for Canadians by more than $1 billion," according to a letter sent to The Canadian Press.

CTV's Your Morning reached out to Loblaw which said, "We’re concerned that the current draft of the grocery code will raise costs for retailers (and) food prices for Canadians. This draft favours big international food brands, limiting grocers’ ability to hold them accountable (and) potentially burdening Canadians with unjustified costs."

Sands said Loblaw made similar comments during the development of the code.

"We asked for supporting evidence of their claim that is going to increase costs, we're still waiting," Sands said. "No one from the industry would sign on to a code that's going to increase food prices. That's just nonsense."

Sands said "reciprocity" will be key to having a beneficial code that applies to elements such as food manufacturers.

Due to the voluntary sign on of the code, Sands said it is possible grocers will not buy into the regulations.

"I just hope that some of these retail chains are thinking that through very carefully because ironically, their opposition, if they don't end up supporting the code, could play into governments across the country looking at taking the code that's already written and simply putting it into regulation," Sands said.

 

To watch the full interview click the video at the top of this article. 

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