Food prices in Canada are expected to soar to record highs next year as persistent pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, labor market troubles and adverse weather events drive food bills higher, a new report on food prices said.
The 12th edition of the Canadian Food Price Report, released Thursday, predicts the average Canadian family of four will pay an additional $ 966 for groceries in 2022, bringing the total annual grocery bill to $ 14,767.
That’s seven percent more than in 2021 – the biggest surge ever predicted by the annual food price report.
“It’s absurd,” said Rita R., the one with the NOW at Burnaby Heights Safeway. “It doesn’t seem to matter which store I go into, the prices are outrageous. My income has certainly not increased to cover these higher prices. And now they will continue to skyrocket? “
“I’m shocked at what I saw,” said Sherry T., who was interviewed outside the Real Canadian Superstore in Metropolis at Metrotown. “I have several children to feed and now we’re cutting down a lot of other things to make sure we can afford food.”
Rising food costs are expected to contribute to rising food insecurity in Canada and place increasing demands on food programs that are designed to help, the report said.
“What is currently being questioned is the affordability of food,” said Sylvain Charlebois, lead author and professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University. “It won’t be easy for families or anyone who is already struggling to get food on the table.”
A growing phenomenon related to rising food insecurity is grocery theft, the report said.
“Grocers have anecdotally reported an increase in thefts, particularly of items such as meat, cheese, over-the-counter drugs and energy drinks,” the report said.
Overall, food prices in Canada are set to rise five to seven percent over the next year, the report said.
But some food categories will see even bigger jumps in 2022.
Milk prices are expected to rise six to eight percent, a forecast that comes after the Canadian Dairy Commission recommended an 8.4 percent increase in farm milk prices to offset rising production costs.
Restaurant menu prices are also rising six to eight percent as the food service sector grapples with widespread labor market challenges and rising commercial rents, the report said.
The labor shortage, particularly restaurant staff, is expected to drive up wages and costs, leading to higher prices, the report said.
Baked goods and vegetables will each rise by five to seven percent, while fruit prices will rise by three to five percent.
The lowest price increases will be in the meat and seafood sectors, with an increase of zero to two percent forecast for both categories.
Mike von Massow, food economist and associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the average consumer who spends about 10 to 11 percent of their income on groceries could respond by choosing cheaper options of the same groceries or cutting off other parts of a household budget, but households with lower incomes do not have this flexibility.
“When you have a lower income, or even food insecurity, you spend a much higher percentage of your income on groceries and there are just fewer opportunities to let go of other things.”
To cope with price inflation, he suggested that people should be more flexible in their shopping habits by choosing seasonal foods that are easier to store, like root vegetables or frozen foods, and that don’t have to be transported as far.
- With additional coverage from the Canadian Press