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Cost of living: Pepsi and Coca-Cola absent in meeting with federal industry minister

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Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. Canada’s industry minister made a point of calling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for not sending representatives to a meeting he convened on Monday with manufacturing companies to discuss stabilizing grocery prices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

 

Canada’s industry minister made a point of calling out Pepsi and Coca-Cola for not sending representatives to a meeting he convened on Monday with manufacturing companies to discuss stabilizing grocery prices.

François-Philippe Champagne singled out the two companies when asked by a journalist what the consequences would be if major industry players did not succeed in stopping high inflation.

“This morning, (their CEOs) did not attend the meeting,” Champagne said of beverage giants Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

“I intend to call on them and I will continue to do so. … I don’t stop,” he told reporters.

The Canadian leaders of seven international manufacturing companies, including Nestlé and Kraft Heinz, met with Champagne.

He summoned them to answer to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call earlier this month for Canadian grocers to come up with a plan to stabilize prices by Thanksgiving.

If major grocers fail to deliver ideas, Champagne said, “the consequence is for all 40 million Canadians because we will be able to see who is taking action and who is not.”

A government source told The Canadian Press that the CEOs of Pepsi and Coca-Cola responded to the federal government summons by stating they were not available Monday. The source was granted anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about the matter.

It’s unclear, however, whether another meeting between major food companies and the government will take place.

Monday’s meeting brought together top Canadian executives from McCain, Unilever, Nestlé, Lactalis, Lassonde, Kraft Heinz, and Smucker Foods.

All avoided speaking with journalists. The CEO of the Food, Health & Consumer Products of Canada association, Michael Graydon, attended the meeting and agreed to answer questions on their behalf.

Graydon called the meeting “very productive.”

”We’re very much about co-operation and support, collaboration,” he said. “It’s an industry that needs to align and work collectively to find a solution.”

He said manufacturers want to collaborate with other players in the supply chain, such as major retailers like Loblaw and Costco, whose leaders Champagne met with one week earlier.

In a statement, Pepsi said it is open to meeting with Champagne.

“We are pleased that our industry association, FHCP, led a productive conversation with the government and representatives from industry today,” it said.

“We were not able to attend today’s meeting, but we offered to meet with the minister. We are committed to collaborating with the government to identify solutions during this challenging time for Canadians.”

Trudeau has said that if the government isn’t satisfied with what major grocers come up with to stabilize prices, he would intervene, including with tax measures.

Graydon said it remains to be seen how detailed the plans will be by the government’s Thanksgiving deadline.

”We’ll have to see whether, you know, the detail of how much completeness can be done by that time. But I think everybody’s working very hard to achieve that,” Graydon said.

Champagne said he is happy Graydon “wants to do something,” because “it’s a gain for Canadians.”

“It’s clear that what’s important is that we have timelines, work plans, and obviously concrete actions,” the minister said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2023.

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Automotive

Ford workers in Canada ratify agreement, set precedent for other automakers

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TORONTO — The union representing 5,600 workers at Ford Motor Co. facilities in Canada says workers have voted to accept a deal with the automaker.

Unifor and Ford reached a tentative agreement Tuesday after extending a strike deadline by 24 hours.

The union has said the three-year deal addresses all issues raised by members for this round of bargaining.

With the Ford deal ratified, Unifor can move on to trying to replicate that deal at the other big automakers, Stellantis and General Motors.

The union has said wages, pensions, job security and the transition to electric vehicles were key areas of focus for bargaining. 

Meanwhile, workers at GM and Stellantis plants in the U.S. have been participating in limited strikes, and on Friday expanded the work action to 38 locations in 20 states. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2023.
 

 

Union leader Lana Payne, national president of Unifor, issued a statement today saying the deal will mean tremendous gains for autoworkers. 

Payne says the deal will also set the pattern for future negotiations with General Motors and Stellantis. 

Unifor and Ford reached a tentative agreement last Tuesday night after extending a Monday strike deadline by 24 hours.

The deal covers more than 5,600 workers at Ford’s plants in Canada.

The Canadian Press

<!– Photo: 20230924120956-65106abdf696d3d4f45d28d9jpeg.jpg, Caption: Unifor national president Lana Payne attends a news conference in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023. Unionized workers at Ford Motor Co. of Canada  have ratified a three-year agreement. Payne issued a
statement today saying the deal will mean tremendous gains for
autoworkers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin –>

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