Mock store puts spotlight on Northern Canada's high food prices

Parody ad campaign spoofs crazy prices paid by people in Nunavut

Canadians love to complain about high grocery prices.

Out-of-season veggies can cause sticker shock, and new reports predict meat prices will rise up to 4.5% over the next year. But that’s nothing compared to what folks in Canada's Far North pay for food. In Nunavut, for example, the cost of food is around 140% higher than the rest of Canada.

A new ad campaign hopes to raise awareness of the situation by spoofing typical supermarket ads touting their low prices.

The ad features a faux store called Way North Foods whose jingle brags about its "really high prices." and specials like two-pack steaks "just $72.99!" and a 10-kilogram bag of flour "now just $54.99!"

"Here at Way North Foods, we're committed to bringing you the high prices you just won't find anywhere else," the store manager says to the camera as he walks through the aisles.

The ad is the brainchild of Wax, a Calgary-based ad agency, which partnered with Feeding My Family, an advocacy group that has raised alarm bells in recent years about the high cost of everyday groceries in the North.

Along with fake TV ads, Way North Foods also has its own Instagram, Twitter and Facebook account that drive to

Chris Lihou, a copywriter with Wax, says the campaign has been in the works for almost a year. The agency approached Leesee Papatsie, founder of Feeding My Family, last June, who jumped on board the idea.

The campaign was launched Dec. 28 to members of Feeding My Family and to several Nunavut blogs.

“We let it sit there for a while to see how people responded,” said Lihou. “When we got back from the break, we began pushing it to other advertising blogs and news sites.”

Lihou said the campaign was done for free with the aid of local companies.

“We have no media dollars, so we’re really trying to hustle and put it on social ,” he said. “That’s why we went for such an off-the-wall concept that’s kind of funny, even though it’s not a funny issue. It has a dark sense of humour, but it’s shareable.”

A Calgary area Family Foods store served as the set, although an actor was hired to play the manager.

As for the prices in the ad, they're real, taken from photos that shoppers in Nunavut snapped and posted on the Feeding My Family Facebook page.

Lihou hopes the campaign will get the attention of people in the rest of Canada. “We want people to initially be shocked, but then look into the issue a bit more and start a national discourse.”

People in Canada's Far North have for years complained about the high costs of food, despite a federal program, Nutrition North, designed to lower the price of food.

A year ago Feeding My Family organized a one-day boycott of the North West Company, the North's largest grocery retailer, to protest high prices.

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