Toronto

Doug Ford calls out Toronto grocer Pusateri's for 'disgusting' price gouging on hand wipes

High-end Toronto grocer Pusateri Fine Foods is offering an apology to its customers after being called out by the Ontario Premier Thursday for "taking advantage and price gouging" during the COVID-19 crisis.

President of Pusateri Fine Foods says pricing was 'our oversight and we apologize'

When asked about price-gouging Thursday, Premier Doug Ford called out Toronto grocer Pusteri's Fine Foods for selling hand wipes at an unreasonable price amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC News)

A high-end Toronto grocer is offering an apology to its customers after being called out by the Ontario Premier Thursday for "taking advantage and price gouging" during the COVID-19 crisis.

During a news conference Thursday, Doug Ford received a question from the media on how his government is responding to concerns of retailers raising their prices on certain items, such as disinfecting wipes, as a result of increased demand.

The Premier didn't mince words.

"I have zero, zero tolerance for price gouging. I'm calling him out. Pusateri's. I hear that they're selling hand wipes for $30 a tin? That's disgusting. Absolutely disgusting a company like that would be selling hand wipes for that cost," he said.

"We have so many great companies, vast majority of companies around this province, around this country are trying to help people out ... People would have the nerve to actually jack-up their prices to $30 a container for hand wipes? It's beyond belief."

Under Ontario's state of emergency legislation, Premier Doug Ford and his government have the power to "prohibit charging unconscionable prices in respect of necessary goods, services and resources."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions at Queen's Park in Toronto on Thursday March 26, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

In an email to CBC News, President and CEO of Pusateri Fine Foods Frank Luchetta said: "While no excuse, our stores are facing immense pressure on all levels of operation. As a result of this mounting pressure, critical elements were overlooked including the incorrect pricing of this product."

"This was our mistake, our error, our oversight and we apologize to everyone impacted."

Luchetta went on to say the store would refund anyone who had purchased the product and would be reviewing and adjusting the prices of any products they'd "improperly" listed.

"We are a family owned and operated business and we share in the concern of the new realities that COVID-19 has created for everyone. This never should have happened, and it will never happen again," Luchetta said.

Ford went on to deliver a stern warning to any company planning to raise prices on essential items during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're bringing this to Cabinet, and we're going to put an order that it's going to illegal for price gouging," he said. 

"We're coming after you. We're going to come after you hard. I'm going to protect the people of this province."