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The structure of the Canadian packaged food and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing and grocery retailing sectors through a public health lens

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 05:59 authored by A Gaucher-Holm, B Wood, Gary SacksGary Sacks, L Vanderlee
Background: Corporate power has been recognized as an important influence on food environments and population health more broadly. Understanding the structure of national food and beverage markets can provide important insight into the power held by leading corporations. This study aimed to descriptively analyze the structure of the Canadian food and beverage manufacturing and grocery retailing sectors as of 2020/21. Methods: Packaged food manufacturers, non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers and grocery retailers with ≥ 1% market share in 2020/21 in Canada as per Euromonitor International were identified and characterized. Proportion of market share held by public vs private, multinational vs national, and foreign multinational companies was assessed for the 3 sectors. The concentration of 14 packaged food, 8 non-alcoholic beverage and 5 grocery retailing markets was assessed using the Herfindahl–Hirschman Index (HHI) and the four firm concentration ratio (CR4) (HHI > 1800 and CR4 > 60 suggest high market concentration). Company ownership structure was also assessed, including common ownership of public companies by three of the largest global asset managers using data from Refinitiv Eikon, a financial market database. Results: The Canadian non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing sector, and, to a lesser extent, the packaged food manufacturing sector were dominated by foreign multinational companies, in contrast with the grocery retailing sector which was dominated by national companies. Market concentration varied across sectors and markets but was substantially greater within the retailing (median CR4 = 84; median HHI = 2405) and non-alcoholic beverage sectors (median CR4 = 72; median HHI = 1995) compared to the packaged food sector (median CR4 = 51; median HHI = 932). There was considerable evidence of common ownership across sectors. Overall, the Vanguard Group Inc owned at least 1% of shares in 95% of publicly listed companies, Blackrock Institutional Trust Company 71%, and State Street Global Advisors (US) 43%. Conclusions: The Canadian packaged food and non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing and grocery retailing sectors include several consolidated markets, with a high degree of common ownership by major investors. Findings suggest that a small number of large corporations, particularly in the retailing sector, have extensive power to influence Canadian food environments; their policies and practices warrant substantial attention as part of efforts to improve population diets in Canada.



Globalization and Health



Article number





London, Eng.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal