Quebec Food giant Sobeys does not close the door to cannabis products on its shelves if the Trudeau government legalizes marijuana, unlike its rival Loblaw.
While no strategic marketing plan is currently on the table, Sobeys intends to explore consumer interest in this type of product. Metro, the company is cautious and refuses to take a stand. “Metro does not want to comment on this,” said a spokesperson.
On Monday, the CBC network revealed that the federal government wanted to legalize marijuana by July 1 , 2018. In the coming weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to introduce a bill based on the recommendations of one Chaired by Anne McLellan, former Minister of Justice. The federal budget tabled last week included $ 9.6 million over five years and $ 1 million per year thereafter for educational programs and marijuana-related surveillance activities .
Market of $ 22 billion
In October, a study by Deloitte reported that the recreational cannabis market could generate over $ 22 billion in Canada for the food sector. In an opinion letter, Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of distribution and agri-food policy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, stated that consumers would be able to buy pot- infused products such as biscuits, liqueurs, oils in grocery stores And even cannabis butter, within 10 years. He felt, however, that the companies would be cautious in the first few years after legalization.
The cannabis market obviously represents a small gold mine for the food industry. “We are still early on in the matter, but we will evaluate the situation. We are here to meet the needs of consumers. We will test them to see if there is a need, “said the Sun Anne-Hélène Lavoie, Public Affairs Advisor at Sobeys-IGA. The latter states that there is no talk for the moment with food processors and distributors. “But we keep an eye open,” she continues.
Before finding marijuana products on the shelves of supermarkets, there are still many questions. The federal bill provides that provinces will choose, among other things, how the pot will be distributed. They will also be able to change the minimum age for purchase.
So in grocery stores, how will these products be identified? “This is why we want to evaluate how it will unfold,” says M me Lavoie.
In Loblaw-Provigo, the company filed applications with Health Canada for a distribution license last year for its subsidiary Shoppers Drug Mart, better known as Pharmaprix in Quebec. However, it does not intend to introduce cannabis products on its shelves.
“At this point we are focusing our efforts to ensure that medicinal marijuana is distributed as safely as possible, and we believe that the way to do this is through pharmacy distribution,” says Johanne Héroux, Senior Director, Corporate Affairs and Communications. “For the moment, from a nutritional point of view, this is not something we are considering,” she continues.
As for the distribution of marijuana, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) or the private sector, the government will have to decide.
“The SAQ focuses on its mandate to trade in alcoholic beverages by offering a wide variety of quality products. It is up to the government to decide on the direction in this matter. If the desire is to get the SAQ to play a role in the commercialization of cannabis, it will adjust to this new reality as it has done on other occasions in the past, “said Renaud Dugas, Head of Relations For the SAQ.