A customer shops at a meat counter in a grocery store in Montreal, on April 30, 2020. The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest ever increase predicted by an annual food price report. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A customer shops at a meat counter in a grocery store in Montreal, on April 30, 2020. The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest ever increase predicted by an annual food price report. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canadian families will pay up to $695 more a year for groceries in 2021, report says

Vegetables could be particularly hard hit, with prices expected to jump as much as 6.5 per cent

The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest increase ever predicted by an annual food price report.

Rising bread, meat and vegetable prices are expected to lead the overall food price increase of three to five per cent, according to Canada’s Food Price Report 2021 released Tuesday.

For an average family of four, that means a $13,907 grocery bill.

“We don’t expect a break at the grocery store any time soon,” said Sylvain Charlebois, lead author and Dalhousie University professor of food distribution and policy.

“This is the highest increase that we’ve ever expected.”

The 11th edition of the food price report, published annually by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, has expanded this year to include the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia, making it more national in scope.

Researchers said in the study that COVID-19 will continue impacting food prices next year, with the meat industry particularly vulnerable to potential labour shortages, logistics disruptions, food plant and distribution centre slowdowns and shifts in consumer demand.

While meat prices could increase as much as 6.5 per cent overall, the biggest price hike could be for poultry, a supply managed industry in Canada.

Poultry prices are up seven per cent since July, Charlebois said, adding that as production costs continue to rise, so will retail prices.

“We are expecting poultry prices to be a bit of an issue,” he said.“If farmers are asked to spend more on equipment and COVID-19 cleaning protocols, consumers will eventually have to pay more.”

Meanwhile, climate change, including heat waves, ice loss, wildfires, floods and droughts, will also influence how much we pay for groceries next year.

Vegetables could be particularly hard hit, with prices expected to jump as much as 6.5 per cent, according to the report.

Much of the produce Canadians consume comes from California, a state that has been ravaged by one of the worst wildfire seasons on record.

With California’s crops heavily compromised by smoke and ongoing challenges with COVID-19, Stuart Smyth with the University of Saskatchewan said prices will be pushed up.

“Vegetables are where people are going to notice the greatest impact,” said Smyth, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

While the price of root crops like potatoes and carrots should remain stable, he said leafy greens and more perishable produce like tomatoes and cucumbers will be more expensive.

Yet some of the biggest price increases could be for vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and asparagus, said Smyth, the chair of Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement.

READ MORE: Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Meanwhile, the study warned consumers to expect bakery prices to increase as much as 5.5 per cent.

The cost of a bushel of wheat hit about $6 in November, Smyth said, up from about $4 roughly 18 months ago — a 50 per cent increase.

The issue is about supply and demand, he said, noting that while “wheat acres” or the amount produced has remained relatively stable in Canada, demand has steadily risen.

“If we hold supply constant but the demand goes up, essentially we’re falling a little bit behind,” Smyth said.

Meanwhile, the latest report has broken down average food costs for individuals based on age and gender, allowing consumers to estimate their potential food expenditures based on their own situation.

While it continues to provide the estimated cost of feeding a family of four, the report also shows that a man aged 31 to 50 can expect to pay $169 more for food next year, while a woman of the same age can expect to pay $152 more.

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Groceries

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bus routes for CMSD82 students in Cablecar and Kitamaat Village have been temporarily changed for Jan. 21 and 22. (Black Press file photo)
Temporary school bus route changes for Cablecar, Kitamaat Village

The two routes will be combined for Jan. 21 and 22 due to a bus driver shortage

Haisla Bridge traffic will be impacted overnights from Jan. 20 to 23 due to District work. (Clare Rayment/Kitimat Northern Sentinel)
Haisla Bridge traffic impacted due to District work

The bridge will be single lane traffic overnights from Jan. 20 to 23

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

Black Press file photo
Fraud scam, car in ditch among weekly Kitimat RCMP report

Kitimat RCMP report from Dec. 18 to 24

(Mountainview Lodge photo)
Santa and Mrs. Claus payed a special visit to the residents at Mountainview Lodge in Kitimat back in December to help raise their spirits during the difficult Christmas season.
Good News, Kitimat!

Bringing some local good news to your week

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read