TORONTO — Canadians can expect even higher grocery prices this fall as the cost of some items continues to climb.
Grocery prices have been on a steady rise since the beginning of the pandemic and both COVID-19 and climate change are the drivers behind the increases, according to a food expert.
“Eight months ago we released Canada’s Food Price Report, we were expecting an increase of 5 per cent, that’s pretty much what’s going on right now. Due to the weather, COVID has something to do with that too, so it’s getting complicated out there for sure,” Sylvain Charlebois, professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday.
Not all products are created equal, though. Canadians may spend more money depending on their purchases and the sections of the grocery store they shop in.
“Already this year, beef is up nine to 10 per cent, pork is up 5 per cent,” he said.
These prices are rising as a result of grain prices. Canadian grain farmers have had a tough year as droughts have damaged their crops, which means the cost of food for cows and pigs has increased, said Charlebois. It’s likely these prices will continue to go up in the fall after farmers sell off livestock to offset the costs of feeding them.
“We are expecting inventories to get lower in the fall, and prices typically go higher, so we are expecting beef prices to go even higher in the fall,” he added.
Alongside higher beef and pork prices, the tough year for Canadian wheat and grain farmers is creating higher prices in the bakery section, too.
“We’re expecting bread to become more expensive and bakery in general is going to be more expensive, for sure,” said Charlebois. “For the first time in many years we are expecting an increase of 5 to 6 per cent in that section of the grocery store.”
And that’s not all, pantry items such as crackers and cookies will be also hit by rising prices, but a bit differently.
“Shrink inflation is coming back, so basically, they’re not necessarily playing with the price all that much, but they’re reducing quantities,” Charlebois said.
He said that this increase will be noticed when shoppers look at the amount per dollar on the price tag at their local grocer.
“It’s a subtle way to actually make sure that consumers aren’t necessarily spooked at the grocery store,” he said.
It’s not all bad news for Canadians’ wallets, though. Some grocery items have remained the same and a few have even gotten cheaper.
The cost of chicken has remained relatively stable throughout the pandemic, so it could be more cost effective to opt for chicken in your favourite recipes.
“If you’re looking for a deal, chicken is actually quite affordable,” he said.
Produce, on the other hand, has dropped in price.
“Fruits and vegetables are actually cheaper this year,” he said. “And some more good news for you: Pasta and orange juice are cheaper as well, compared to last year.”