Nunavut prices


A jar of peanut butter for $17.69! A 64-ounce container of orange juice is just $26.29! And a holiday turkey can be yours for the low, low price of just $199.99! All at a store whose catchy jingle promises “really high prices for everyday items… it’s the Way North way!”

Who would even shop at a store like that? Thousands of Canadian residents don’t have a choice.

A slick new parody ad campaign (watch one of the ads above) is drawing renewed attention to a grassroots protest against sky-high grocery prices in far northern Canada.

The territory of Nunavut, once part of Canada’s Northwest Terrorities, stretches from north of Manitoba nearly all the way to the North Pole. It’s a vast area with few residents – just about 37,000.

And, because it’s so remote, it costs a small fortune to live there. Imagine using a coupon for 50 cents off a $54.99 bag of flour. It hardly seems worth the trouble to clip it.

Nunavut residents have been protesting and complaining about outrageous grocery prices for years. Their plight has been written about numerous times, including right here on Coupons in the News back in 2012. And now, their struggle is back on the agenda, thanks to some ad agency friends who volunteered their services to produce a series of fake-but-all-too-real commercials.


“We’re committed to bringing you the high prices you just won’t find anywhere else,” a store manager says cheerfully in one of the parody ads. “So come on down to Way North Foods, where nobody offers you less for more!”

If you’re not paying close attention, the ads look like genuine corny local supermarket commercials, complete with a cheesy jingle, a look at the weekly “specials” and smiling employees interacting with customers – in one case, the manager gently snatches an apple from a young boy’s hands and places it back on the shelf, pointing at the price tag.

The ads end by informing viewers that “Way North Foods isn’t real. But for families in Nunavut, its prices are.” Viewers are then asked to visit a website, EndThePriceHike.ca, which features other ads in the campaign, plus links and information on how Canadians can contact their lawmakers and donate to Nunavut food banks.

All of the prices mentioned are in Canadian dollars, of course. But the exchange rate isn’t the reason for the high prices. The Canadian dollar is worth about 70% of an American dollar these days, which means the prices are still a whole lot higher than what you’ll find in your neighborhood grocery store. And a whole lot higher than the rest of Canada, which is already suffering from grocery store sticker shock due to the Canadian dollar’s falling value.

Overall, the high cost of groceries up North is a complex issue that’s not simply due to grocery stores’ greed, as the ads might have you believe. It has much to do with the cost of just getting food to such a remote area. That’s why Nunavut is the recipient of millions of dollars in federal food subsidies, its minimum wage is the highest in Canada, and many residents are well-compensated for working there.

But not everyone is, particularly the native Inuit, who make up the majority of the population. And those who struggle to put food on their tables, argue that current programs just aren’t enough to make a dent in those exorbitant grocery prices.

The videos have thousands of views so far, so if nothing else, they’re succeeding in raising awareness about the issue.

And if you weren’t aware of it before – now you are. So if you ever have reason to visit Nunavut, better bring your coupons. Or better yet, bring all your own food. Otherwise, you too may be paying $72.99 for a steak.

One Comment

  1. If I were a Canadian in a more populated area, I would be angered that my tax dollars were being used to subsidize the people that live there.

    It’s their choice to live in a remote area and indigenous people have lived there for thousands of years(in other words long before a grocery store). If newer generations have become too “soft” for living off the land as their ancestors, then it is time to move.

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