Imported Produce Driving Up Canadians’ Grocery Bills

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GUELPH, Ont. — Canadian grocery bills are on the rise and imports are to blame, according to the 2020 Canada’s Food Price Report.

Families can expect to spend $487 more on food this year, with the average Canadian households’ total grocery bill increasing to $12,667, claims the report.

The report was conducted as a joint venture between the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute (AFI) and Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab. 

The two leads on the project were professor Simon Somogyi, AFI chair in the Business of Food, and Sylvain Charlebois, scientific director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

The study provides price forecasts across eight food categories; bakery, dairy, fruits, meat, other, restaurants, seafood and vegetables. The largest price increase is seen in the meat sector, which is expected to grow by as much as six per cent. The restaurant, vegetable and seafood sectors are forecast to see the second-largest increases, with expected price increases of as much as four per cent.

“If U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign focuses heavily on Mexico border protection, this may result in even more costly fruit and vegetables for Canadians,” says Somogyi. “We get a large amount of our fruit and vegetables from the U.S. and Mexico and delays at the border crossing can lead to empty grocery-store shelves.”

“When rates increase quickly, families can be left behind,” says Charlebois, “vegetables are a perfect example. Canada’s new Food Guide is encouraging Canadians to eat more vegetables, but they’re getting more expensive.”

The overall projected national jump is two to four per cent — a slight increase on last year’s 1.5- to 3.5-per-cent growth.

One solution, Somogyi says, is subsidizing the cost of indoor farming and funding research on vegetable breeds that grow well in those conditions. “This would allow us to produce more local vegetables, cut down on logistics and improve farm food safety,” he explains.

The complete Canada’s Food Price Report can be viewed here.

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