Walmart Canada CEO says retailer not trying to profit from inflation

Walmart before Parliament

The president and CEO of Walmart Canada says the retail giant is not attempting to profit from soaring food inflation.

Gonzalo Gebara spoke before a parliamentary committee studying food inflation Monday evening, saying Walmart Canada's gross profit rate for its food business declined last year, as did the company's total operating profit in dollars.

His comments before the committee followed a highly anticipated appearance by the leaders of Canada’s three biggest grocery chains on March 8.

The CEOs and presidents of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Metro Inc. and Empire Co. Ltd. told the committee that food inflation is not being caused by profit-mongering, and insisted their margins on food have remained low.

Federal politicians have been calling for more transparency from the grocery industry as food price inflation has been significantly outpacing overall inflation.

Gebara also told the committee the last two years have presented a perfect storm of external factors that have driven up food prices.

Grocery prices were up 10.6 per cent in February compared with a year ago, while overall inflation was 5.2 per cent.

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