Metro's top executives received a hearty pay bump in 2022 as soaring food inflation gave the grocery chain a sales boost.

In total, the Montreal-based company's five executives shared $13.2 million in compensation for fiscal 2022, according to regulatory documents.

It's a 4 per cent increase over the same period last year.

Their annual bonus increases, tied to company performance, were even more generous: the execs shared $3.7 million in annual bonuses, a 13.7 per cent increase over last year.

President and CEO Eric La Flèche received a total compensation of $5.4 million, an increase of 6.8 per cent. His annual bonus jumped 15 per cent, to $1.5 million.

In a notice sent to shareholders, Metro said the company's board of directors established "high sales targets" to determine bonus amounts.

These targets were exceeded in the second half of the year "as significant food inflation drove sales and accelerated a shift of consumers to discount stores."

In 2022, revenues for the company, which includes Metro, Jean Coutu and Super C, were $18.9 billion, an increase of 3.3 per cent. Net income rose 2.9 per cent, to $849.5 million.

In September, at the time of Metro's fiscal year-end, food inflation was 10.3 per cent in Canada, according to Statistics Canada data.

Shoppers can continue to expect headaches in the grocery aisle, according to forecasts from the Desjardins group.

On average, inflation in the food sector is expected to reach 5.6 per cent in 2023.

The pace should moderate to 3.2 per cent in December 2023.

At a time when Canada's large grocers are being criticized due to soaring food prices, Metro defends taking advantage of the situation while its margins have remained relatively stable.

Despite an 8.3 per cent increase in revenue to $4.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2022, the gross margin remained consistent, reaching 20.4 per cent -- the same threshold as last year.

In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the gross margin was 20.2 per cent.

When unveiling quarterly results last November, management pointed to inflationary pressures such as transportation and labour.

Large Canadian grocers are the subject of a Competition Bureau study announced late October. The move comes amid rising food inflation, despite a moderation in overall inflation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 5, 2023.