HALIFAX, NS, Dec. 9, 2021 Food prices in Canada are going up — again.
Canada’s Food Price Report 2022 forecasts an overall food price increase of 5% to 7% for the coming year, the highest predicted increase in food prices since the inception of the report twelve years ago. The most significant increases are predicted for dairy and restaurants at 6% to 8%, and bakery and vegetables at 5% to 7%.
“It’s important for consumers to understand that food prices have been going up for some time, and there’s no turning back,” says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, project lead and Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Our relationship with food is changing, and so will our food budgets. Showing up at the grocery store knowing what you should be paying will help.”
This year’s report predicts that a family of four, including a man (age 31-50), woman (age 31-50), boy (age 14-18), and girl (age 9-13) will pay up to $14,767.36 for food, an increase of up to $966.08 from the total annual cost in 2021.
Food price increases in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Saskatchewan will likely be higher than the national average in 2022, while price increases in the remaining provinces will be lower.
“Most Canadians could eat more vegetables,” says Dr. Kelleen Wiseman, UBC campus lead. “The forecasted increase in this healthy food category is worrying from a public health perspective because consumers might be tempted to further reduce their consumption of fresh and mainstream vegetables. However, options are available in selecting alternative vegetables or frozen vegetables — which can provide high nutritional value at a lower price point.”
Canada’s Food Price Report 2022 focuses on COVID-19-related disruptions to the food supply chain, climate change and adverse weather effects, labour force challenges, high inflation, and food transportation challenges.
“Supply chain disruptions and labour market challenges will persist in 2022,” explains Alyssa Gerhardt, a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie who worked on the project. “COVID-19 is still here. The food supply chain will continue to grapple with the cost of sanitation and PPE, high transportation costs and reduced maritime transport capacity, as well as decreased efficiency and disruptions due to closures.”
Despite these challenges, consumers’ food choices continue to be motivated by health and environmental sustainability and a commitment to supporting local food supply chains, and overall food literacy appears to be improving. “Canada is a leader in the production of safe, sustainable foods,” explains Dr. Stuart Smyth, University of Saskatchewan campus lead. “Buying products that are made in Canada is a good way to support sustainable, ethical, and healthy choices.”
Canada’s Food Price Report is an annual cross-country collaboration, jointly released by long-time research partners Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, as well as the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia. The research team uses historical data sources, machine learning algorithms, and predictive analytics tools developed over many years to make predictions about food prices in Canada.
“The report brings together some of the best minds in Canadian food policy, business, and economics — including expertise in computer science in areas such as artificial intelligence and forecasting,” says University of Guelph campus lead Dr. Simon Somogyi. “This annual report is really one-of-a-kind in Canadian inter-university collaborations and is a testament to the hard work of all involved.”
For more information, please read the complete Canada’s Food Price Report 2022.