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Loblaw is ending its price freeze on No Name products

Food prices have remained stubbornly high, rising 11% in December

Toronto ON-Oct 13.Stock Images of No Name products and Loblaws Stores in Toronto. Loblaws has promised to keep No Name products at the current prices for a year.   .(R.J. Johnston/Toronto Star)        (R.J. Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Loblaw's (L.TO) is ending its price freeze on more than 1,500 No Name products. (R.J. Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images) (Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Loblaw (L.TO) is ending its price freeze on more than 1,500 No Name products, even as Canadians continue to face rising prices at grocery stores.

Canada's biggest grocer says the price freeze that was first implemented on all private label No Name items in October will come to an end on Tuesday.

"The more-than-three-month price freeze ends January 31 — but we're not done," a spokesperson for the company said in an emailed statement.

"Looking ahead, we'll continue to hold those prices flat wherever possible, and switching to No Name will still save the average family thousands this year."

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Loblaw had introduced the price freeze in October, with president and chairman Galen Weston saying at the time that grocery bills were higher because suppliers were raising prices, forcing the grocer to follow suit. Weston also noted in October that the average basket of groceries was up about 10 per cent.

Since then, food prices have remained stubbornly high. Grocery prices grew 11 per cent in December, a marginally slower pace from the 11.4 per cent increase in November. Still, food price growth has hovered at the 11 per cent mark between August and December. In December, the price of eggs surged 16.5 per cent, dairy products were up 11.4 per cent, bakery products climbed 13.5 per cent, and fresh vegetables 13.6 per cent higher.

With food prices increasing at rates not seen in more than four decades, pressure and scrutiny on grocery retailers have been on the rise. The Competition Bureau announced in October that it is launching a study to examine grocery competition in the country and whether it has driven food prices higher. In December, grocery store executives – including a representative from Loblaw – appeared before a House of Commons agriculture committee as part of an investigation into food price inflation.

Loblaw executives have repeatedly said that food prices have increased because supplier costs are up, and that the company has pushed back on half a billion dollars worth of added costs in negotiations this year.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

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