The Chinese grocery industry has been a hot topic in Canada for months, with the government introducing a number of new regulations aimed at slowing down its growth.
The grocery sector has been one of the few sectors to see growth in recent years, with grocery stores accounting for about 10 per cent of the country’s retail sales.
But it has been hit hard by a number different regulations, including the introduction of mandatory labeling in some stores and new restrictions on imports.
The changes have made it harder for Chinese grocery retailers to compete in Canada, said David Sperling, a senior economist at CIBC World Markets in Toronto.
He said the new regulations have had an impact on the industry, as Chinese supermarkets struggle to compete.
“They’re going to have to adjust their stores to compete, because they’ve been doing that for decades now,” Sperlin said.
“But the market for Chinese groceries in general has been very resilient, so the impact of the new regulatory regime is going to be felt.”
Some Canadian groceries are already in Chinese stores, but Sperler said Chinese retailers are unlikely to expand.
“If Chinese retailers aren’t allowed to expand, the only thing that will happen is they’re going not to be able to sell Chinese products,” he said.
A handful of Chinese retailers have been opening grocery stores in Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal, but it’s still unclear whether they will be able take advantage of the expanded market.
“It’s a little bit of a grey area,” said Daniel Mazzucchelli, a professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Public Policy.
He noted that Chinese retailers already compete in other countries, such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.
“So if they’re not allowed to operate in Canada at the moment, it would be a huge hit to their business.”