Posts misrepresent humorous dig at Canadian grocery prices

Social media users regularly lament the costs of groceries in Canada, but posts are misrepresenting a satirical video implying Costco is charging more than $200 for a pack of chicken drumsticks. The woman featured in the clip told AFP she knew the label was a misprint and filmed it as a joke.

"Canada it is time to wake up," says text over a February 1, 2024 TikTok with more than 800,000 views.

In the clip, a user added their reaction to a video of a woman saying she found a pack of chicken priced above Can$200 (US$148.46) at a Costco wholesale store in Canada.

Different versions of the shopping footage received tens of thousands of likes across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and X, formerly Twitter.

<span>Screenshot of a TikTok taken February 7, 2024</span>
Screenshot of a TikTok taken February 7, 2024

In the original clip posted January 30 (archived here), the speaker appears to encourage people not to move to Canada due to high food prices. The woman highlights two packs of buffalo chicken drumsticks -- one priced at Can$202.18 for 2.02 kilograms (4.45 pounds) and another listed as $224.58 for 2.25 kilograms.

The labels indicate the chicken costs Can$99.99 per kilogram, but many commenters on the original video and its subsequent reposts say the stickers may have been a misprint.

Cass Szabo, the TikTok user who originally posted the clip (archived here), confirmed to AFP and at least two other publications that she knew the items had been incorrectly labeled.

"The video is satire/for humor because it was definitely a misprint on the chicken," Szabo said in a February 6 email.

However, many social media users shared the video without that context, instead taking it seriously.

Costco spokesman Martin Groleau told AFP in a February 8 email that the video depicted a labeling error at one of their locations.

One recent video from a fan of the warehouse chain suggests the same buffalo chicken drumstick pack is sold in Canada for about Can$22, or $8.99 per kilogram (archived here). Online listings for raw drumsticks from Costco price the product at $7.99 per kilogram (archived here).

Szabo said that while the video itself was meant to be humorous, she thinks it reflects the rising cost of living in Canada.

Local media label the situation a "crisis," pointing to spikes in prices for food, shelter and fuel in recent years. Social media posts have documented the relatively high cost of groceries in Canada -- including chicken (archived here and here).

Grocery store executives have faced scrutiny over rising profits as food prices increase due to pandemic-related inflation. But some argue the costs are often due to expenses associated with delivering food to the vast northern country.

Read more of AFP's reporting on misinformation in Canada here.

February 8, 2024 Paragraph 10 was updated to include Costco's response.