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Friday, October 22, 2021

Bacon prices reach all-time high in Canada

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OTTAWA — As grocery prices continue to rise, the price of bacon in Canada reached an all-time high last month, according to data from Statistics Canada.​

In August 2021, the average price of a 500-gram pack was $8.24, exceeding the $8 mark for the first time ever.

Bacon prices previously hovered around the $7 mark in 2019 as well as the early months of the pandemic. But prices have increased 13.81 per cent since August 2020, when the average price was $6.96.

Hot dogs have also seen a jump in prices. A 450-gram pack of wieners was $4.96 on average in August 2021, up 13.5 per cent from last year but down from its peak price of $5.02 back in February. Pork chops saw a smaller price hike, increasing 4.07 per cent from last year.

Beef prices have also skyrocketed. The price of a sirloin steak jumped 12.63 per cent from last year and blade roast increased 10.98 per cent. Round steak and stewing beef saw smaller increases of 5.08 per cent and 8.78 per cent.

In addition, chicken prices are also up 7.11 per cent and egg prices have increased 6.54 per cent.

Janet Music, who is the research program co-ordinator at Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, says across the board, grocery prices have increased around five per cent, which is significantly greater than the typical one to two per cent inflation rate.

“It’s a complicated system, our food, and how it gets from the ground to our plates,” she told CTVNews.ca on Thursday in a phone interview.

Several factors have led to a crunch in the meat supply chain, leading to increased costs. Music points to the recent adverse weather events, such as the wildfires in B.C. and California as well as the drought in the Prairies. There’s also the ongoing pandemic, which continues to impact supply chains around the world.

“We’ve got (the pandemic) under control, sort of, here in Canada, but we can’t say the same for our global trading partners. And so, if they’re having labour shortages or raw material shortages in things like packaging … that’s going to play a role,” said Music.

On top of that, with many pandemic restrictions lifted and more Canadians choosing to eat out at restaurants, the supply hasn’t kept pace with the increase in demand, Music says.

When it comes to bacon specifically, Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, also points to the recent strike that affected the Olymel pork processing plant in Vallée-Jonction, Que.

“That plant was closed for five months. And so that really had an impact on the supply and how pork was distributed,” he told CTVNews.ca on Thursday over the phone.

The grocery price hikes have largely centred around meat. Many produce products, such as carrots, oranges and onions, have actually seen price decreases.

Charlebois says the price hikes case pushed many consumers to “reconsider the meat counter all together.” On Wednesday, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab published a survey that found that nearly half of Canadians had reduced their meat purchases as a result of higher prices.

It’s unclear how much higher these prices might climb, but Music says she doesn’t believe Canada’s economy is at risk of hyperinflation.

“I think we’re a pretty stable economy. We have kind of these checks and balances in place to make sure we have a safe and steady food supply,” she said. “I wouldn’t say that I think it’s going to go much higher.” 

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