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The bad news? Era of dirt-cheap food is over

  Don’t expect food prices to ever return to pre-2022 levels We learned last week that Canada’s food inflation rate in March dropped for a second…




Don’t expect food prices to ever return to pre-2022 levels

We learned last week that Canada’s food inflation rate in March dropped for a second month in a row to 8.9 per cent. However, prices at food stores rose 9.7 per cent year-to-year. While prices increased by 0.3 per cent in one month, the lowest percentage so far in 2023, the gap between food inflation and the general inflation rate reached 4.6 per cent, the highest it has been since 2009.

Even though Canada still has the third-lowest food inflation rate within the G7, after Japan and the United States, a stubbornly high food inflation rate compared to that in other economic sectors will continue to cause sticker shock at the grocery store.

Many are asking when food prices will return to pre-2022 levels. The truth is, they won’t. With higher wages and increasing packaging and energy costs, food prices just won’t drop. Some food companies will raise salaries by more than 10 per cent over the next three years just to increase employee retention. It’s challenging to recruit for many remotely located agri-food companies, and the work, in some cases, can be physically demanding.

Consumers are feeling the impact of these financial adjustments on the food supply chain. Grocers are paying more for goods, as shown in their financial statements for several months now.

Our best hope is to see the food inflation rate drop. With a lower food inflation rate comes more predictability for the industry. Many households are dedicating a larger percentage of their total budget to food purchases.

Or are they?

The retail sales numbers released by Statistics Canada over the past few years tell us an interesting story.

In January 2017, Canadians were spending 48 per cent on food, among all other goods bought at retail. This went down to 46 per cent just before the pandemic started. In March 2020, this rate shot up to 74 per cent for obvious reasons – nothing was open for business. Today, 41 per cent of the money spent on retail goods is for food, excluding alcohol and cannabis. These numbers exclude major components of our economy like services and housing.

The data seems counter-intuitive but may, in fact, suggest a few things. For one, while this certainly means inflation is impacting all aspects of our lives, the data is telling us that Canadians are still spending.

Most important, however, total retail sales for grocery and specialty food stores appear to have almost plateaued. In February 2023, the monthly food expenditures per capita were about $583. In February 2020, three years earlier, the monthly food expenditures per capita were roughly $618.

Since we get less for our dollar now, these numbers are astonishing. If we are to believe these numbers, Canadians are likely buying less food in volume and are also spending less in food retail. And, as major grocers’ revenues, including Loblaw, Empire/Sobeys and Metro, have increased in recent years, this may also indicate that independent grocers are simply selling less food.

Again, these numbers don’t provide a complete retail picture since they exclude services, but numbers suggest that while the size of our retail market is still increasing, food retail in Canada is stagnating. In fact, from January 2022 to January 2023, retail food sales have dropped in Canada by more than five per cent. By mid-2022, when food inflation was really putting more pressure on everyone, food retail sales started to drop despite more people coming to Canada.

Unsurprisingly, many, many households are just spending less and being more frugal about food purchases in times of financial stress. They may also be wasting less food as well and are more careful with food inventories they have at home. Or is it more gardening or more visits to farmers’ markets?

This causes concern about the numerous health and nutritional compromises consumers are making due to higher food prices. We can see how trading down at the grocery store can have long-term effects on the health of individuals and families, especially children.

It certainly has been confusing for Canadian shoppers over the last 12 months. Grocery shopping takes more thought and analysis on the part of the consumer. We can’t just drop by the grocery store and pick up what we’ll need for the next few days.

The bad news is that Canadians are coming out of an era during which food was dirt cheap. In fact, the world is experiencing the same challenges, not just Canada. The good news is that things are slowly calming down for the food industry, giving them much-needed breathing room, and allowing food retail to offer consumers more frequent and better discounts.

So, yes, with food inflation, patience will pay off.

By Sylvain Charlebois

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is senior director of the agri-food analytics lab and a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.

Troy Media

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Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?…

This past Wednesday, President of the European…



Von Der Leyen Speech Suggests Russia Dropped Nuke On Hiroshima 

Von der Leyen just said what?...

This past Wednesday, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivered a speech before the 2023 Atlantic Council Awards in New York, where she sounded the alarm over the specter of nuclear war centered on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. But while invoking remembrance of the some 78,000 civilians killed instantly by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WWII, she said her warning comes "especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again". She  actually framed the atomic atrocity in a way that made it sound like the Russians did it. Watch:

There was not one single acknowledgement in Von der Leyen's speech that it was in fact the United States which incinerated and maimed hundreds of thousands when it dropped no less that two atomic bombs on Japanese cities.

Here were her precise words, according to an Atlantic Council transcript...

You, dear Prime Minister, showed me the meaning of this proverb during the G7 summit in Japan last year. You brought us to your hometown of Hiroshima, the place where you have your roots and which has deeply shaped your life and leadership. Many of your relatives lost their life when the atomic bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground. You have grown up with the stories of the survivors. And you wanted us to listen to the same stories, to face the past, and learn something about the future.

It was a sobering start to the G7, and one that I will not forget, especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again. It is heinous. It is dangerous. And in the shadow of Hiroshima, it is unforgivable

The above video of that segment of the speech gives a better idea of the subtle way she closely associated in her rhetoric the words "once again" with the phrase "shadow of Hiroshima" while focusing on what Russia is doing, to make it sound like it was Moscow behind the past atrocities.

Via dpa

Russian media not only picked up on the woefully misleading comments, but the Kremlin issued a formal rebuke of Von der Leyen's speech as well:

In response to von der Leynen's remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the European Commission president of making "no mention whatsoever of the US and its executioners who dropped the bombs on populated Japanese cities."

Zakharova responded on social media, arguing that von der Leyen's assertions on Moscow's supposed intentions to employ nuclear weapons "is despicable and dangerous" and "lies."

Some Russian embassies in various parts of the globe also highlighted the speech on social media, denouncing the "empire of lies" and those Western leaders issuing 'shameful' propaganda and historical revisionism.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 13:15

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Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl…



Saudi Arabia Sentences Schoolgirl To 18 Years In Prison Over Tweets

Via Middle East Eye,

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a secondary schoolgirl to 18 years in jail and a travel ban for posting tweets in support of political prisoners, according to a rights group.

On Friday, ALQST rights group, which documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, revealed that the Saudi Specialised Criminal Court handed out the sentence in August to 18-year-old Manal al-Gafiri, who was only 17 at the time of her arrest.

Via Reuters

The Saudi judiciary, under the de facto rule of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has issued several extreme prison sentences over cyber activism and the use of social media for criticising the government.

They include the recent death penalty against Mohammed al-Ghamdi, a retired teacher, for comments made on Twitter and YouTube, and the 34-year sentence of Leeds University doctoral candidate Salma al-Shehab over tweets last year.

The crown prince confirmed Ghamdi's sentence during a wide-ranging interview with Fox News on Wednesday. He blamed it on "bad laws" that he cannot change

"We are not happy with that. We are ashamed of that. But [under] the jury system, you have to follow the laws, and I cannot tell a judge [to] do that and ignore the law, because... that's against the rule of law," he said.

Saudi human rights defenders and lawyers, however, disputed Mohammed bin Salman's allegations and said the crackdown on social media users is correlated with his ascent to power and the introduction of new judicial bodies that have since overseen a crackdown on his critics. 

"He is able, with one word or the stroke of a pen, in seconds, to change the laws if he wants," Taha al-Hajji, a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant with the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights, told Middle East Eye this week.

According to Joey Shea, Saudi Arabia researcher at Human Rights Watch, Ghamdi was sentenced under a counterterrorism law passed in 2017, shortly after Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince. The law has been criticised for its broad definition of terrorism.

Similarly, two new bodies - the Presidency of State Security and the Public Prosecution Office - were established by royal decrees in the same year.

Rights groups have said that the 2017 overhaul of the kingdom's security apparatus has significantly enabled the repression of Saudi opposition voices, including those of women rights defenders and opposition activists. 

"These violations are new under MBS, and it's ridiculous that he is blaming this on the prosecution when he and senior Saudi authorities wield so much power over the prosecution services and the political apparatus more broadly," Shea said, using a common term for the prince.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 11:30

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Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op…



Biden To Join UAW Picket Line As Strike Expands, Good Luck Getting Repairs

Authored by Mike Shedlock via,

In a symbolic, photo-op gesture to win union votes, Biden will head to Michigan for a token visit.

Biden to Walk the Picket Line

Taking Sides

CNN had some Interesting comments on Biden Talking Sides.

Jeremi Suri, a presidential historian and professor at University of Texas at Austin, said he doesn’t believe any president has ever visited a picket line during a strike.

Presidents, including Biden, have previously declined to wade into union disputes to avoid the perception of taking sides on issues where the negotiating parties are often engaged in litigation.

On September 15, the day the strike started, Biden said that the automakers “should go further to ensure record corporate profits mean record contracts for the UAW.”

Some Democratic politicians have been urging Biden to do more. California Rep. Ro Khanna on Monday told CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich that Biden and other Democrats should join him on the picket line.

“I’d love to see the president out here,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party needs to demonstrate it’s “the party of the working class.”

UAW Announces New Strike Locations

As the strike enters a second week, UAW Announces New Strike Locations

UAW President Shawn Fain called for union members to strike at noon ET Friday at 38 General Motors and Stellantis facilities across 20 states. He said the strike call covers all of GM and Stellantis’ parts distribution facilities.

The strike call notably excludes Ford, the third member of Detroit’s Big Three, suggesting the UAW is more satisfied with the progress it has made on a new contract with that company.

General Motors plants being told to strike are in Pontiac, Belleville, Ypsilanti, Burton, Swartz Creek and Lansing, Michigan; West Chester, Ohio; Aurora, Colorado; Hudson, Wisconsin; Bolingbrook, Illinois; Reno, Nevada; Rancho Cucamonga, California; Roanoke, Texas; Martinsburg, West Virginia; Brandon, Mississippi; Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Lang Horne, Pennsylvania.

The Stellantis facilities going on strike are in Marysville, Center Line, Warren, Auburn Hills, Romulus and Streetsboro, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Plymouth, Minnesota; Commerce City, Colorado; Naperville, Illinois; Ontario, California; Beaverton, Oregon; Morrow, Georgia; Winchester, Virginia; Carrollton, Texas; Tappan, New York; and Mansfield, Massachusetts.

Contract Negotiations Are Not Close

Good Luck Getting Repairs

Party of the Working Cass, Really?

Let’s discuss the nonsensical notion that Democrats are the party of the “working class”.

Unnecessary stimulus, reckless expansion of social services, student debt cancellation, eviction moratoriums, earned income credits, immigration policy, and forcing higher prices for all, to benefit the few, are geared towards the “unworking class”.

On top of it, Biden wants to take away your gas stove, end charter schools to protect incompetent union teachers, and force you into an EV that you do not want and for which infrastructure is not in place.

All of this increases inflation across the board as do sanctions and clean energy madness.

Exploring the Working Class Idea

If you don’t work and have no income, Biden may make your healthcare cheaper. If you do work, he seeks to take your healthcare options away.

If you want to pay higher prices for cars, give up your gas stove, be forced into an EV, subsidize wind energy then pay more for electricity on top of it, you have a clear choice. If you support those efforts, by all means, please join him on the picket line for a token photo-op (not that you will be able to get within miles for the staged charade).

But if you can think at all, you understand Biden does not support the working class, he supports the unworking class.

Tyler Durden Sun, 09/24/2023 - 10:30

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