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Loblaw freezes prices on all No Name products until Jan. 31

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 24  - The Real Canadian Superstore located at 3050 Argentina Road in Mississauga. Loblaws is tinkering with the idea of making shopping at a discount Superstores feel like a premium experience, without the premium price.        (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Loblaw is freezing prices on more than 1,500 No Name products until Jan. 31. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images) (Carlos Osorio via Getty Images)

Loblaw (L.TO) is freezing prices on more than 1,500 No Name products until Jan. 31, as skyrocketing inflation continues to drive up grocery bills for Canadians.

Canada's biggest grocer announced Monday that it will freeze prices of all its private label No Name items until the end of January.

Loblaw president and chairman Galen Weston said in an email sent to PC Optimum members that the price of an average basket of groceries is up 10 per cent this year, with the cost of products like butter, apples, soups and chips up even more.

"Anyone who regularly visits the grocery store knows that over the past year the cost of food has increased rapidly," Weston said.

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"Maddeningly, much of this is out of our control. Your grocery bill is higher today because the suppliers who make the products we sell are raising their prices for us."

While Weston said that Loblaw is challenging any unfair price increases, he noted that "most are reasonable." The company said in a news release that "increased suppliers costs due to fuel, labour, weather and global conflict" have driven rapidly rising food prices.

Grocery prices have soared this year at the fastest rate in decades. The cost of food purchased from stores increased 10.8 per cent in August, the fastest increase since 1981. The increases were broad-based, with bakery products up 15.4 per cent, fresh fruit up 13.2 per cent, dairy products up 7 per cent and meat up 6.5 per cent.

Loblaw's move comes months after grocers in Europe, including French chain Carrefour and German brand Lidl, instituted similar price freezes.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, said the prize freeze "should have happened a long time ago in Canada."

"We've seen grocers voluntarily freezing prices across the G7 for a while now," Charlebois said.

Still, freezing No Name prices will offer much-needed relief to Canadians, he said, as well as help repair some of the image issues Canada's big grocers are facing.

"This is also a PR strategy... a lot of Canadians are blaming grocers for what's going on with food inflation," he said. "Some of it is deserved... but much of that criticism is unfair because food prices can rise for a variety of reasons beyond a grocer's control."

With files from the Canadian Press

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

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