Canada’s biggest grocery chains have committed to implementing a range of measures including price freezes, price matching and discounts to help stabilize food prices, the federal government announced on Thursday.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the five largest grocery chains will roll out the changes over the coming days and weeks.

Discounts will cover “key food products” considered the most important purchases for households, the government said, and measures will vary across grocery stores.

The announcement comes after Champagne and other federal ministers met last month with top executives at Loblaw, Metro, Empire, Walmart and Costco to discuss ways to bring down high food costs for Canadians

The government gave companies a Thanksgiving deadline to present plans to tackle high food prices, and Thursday’s announcement represents the first commitments to come out of those talks.

Champagne noted that the process is ongoing, and said the government will take additional action if it decides that is required.

“This is day one of a process,” he told a news conference.

The government also said on Thursday that it is continuing work on a “grocery code of conduct” related to transparency in the industry, and on improvements across Canada’s food supply chain.

The exact specifics of the price-related measures were not clear on Thursday afternoon. But Michael G. Osborne, chair of the Canadian Competition Practice at Cozen O'Connor, told BNN Bloomberg that grocery price reductions can only come in a few different forms. 

The first way is if grocery companies accept a “temporary reduction in margins” in order to meet the goals put forward by the government, he said. A second way to reduce prices would be for the companies to push back on suppliers, resulting in those companies reducing their margins. 

“The third is that they raise prices somewhere else where we don't notice, and they make their margin up from there and are able to cut price on this basket of goods that the minister is talking about,” Osborne said in a television interview on Thursday.

Osborne said that based on findings from the Competition Bureau, the overall margin that grocers make is about 3.6 per cent. 

“That’s not a lot, and it means there's not a lot of room for the grocery stores to cut their margins further to give us a break on our Thanksgiving turkeys,” he said.