Food prices expected to rise by 7 per cent in 2022

Average family of four will pay $1,000 more at the grocery store

If you haven’t been penny-pinching, and taking note of sale items, you might want to start.

Canada’s Food Price Guide, an annual report issued by the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University, suggests food prices will rise seven per cent next year — the biggest increase in more than a decade.

It means an average family of four will fork out just under a thousand bucks more for food.

Dairy and bakery products are expected to increase the most; meat and seafood remain relatively stable

Climate change, higher costs for energy, and the pandemic are cited as reasons behind the price increases.

Choice is a prevailing theme in this year’s report. Prices are up, but so are options, and consumers are beginning to understand that and exercise their buying muscle.

“It’s the future,” says Canada’s Food Price Report project lead Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie. “Expect more choices. Many new companies are coming forward with unique ideas, offering a completely different outlook on food production and supply. This will only continue.”

From Canada’s Food Price Guide annual report:

Strategies to manage your grocery bill in 2022

According to University of Guelph campus lead Simon Somogyi, even though COVID-19 has had major impacts on the way food is produced and delivered to Canadians, there are still strategies consumers can deploy to mitigate rising costs.

1. Good old-fashioned budgeting still pays off.
 “Look for discounts in grocery store flyers and shop around for the best prices,” advises Dr. Somogyi. “Be careful about only buying the food that you need and not wasting it by letting it spoil in the fridge. For expensive items such as meat, buy in bulk when prices are lower and invest in a freezer. For vegetables, particularly in the wintertime, try the frozen food aisle. Frozen broccoli, carrots, peas, blueberries, and raspberries may not look and taste as good as the fresh ones, but they are just as nutritious and can be a lot cheaper.”

2. Know what healthy food means to you, and be flexible. Kelleen Wiseman, UBC campus lead, reminds us that healthy foods mean different things for different families. “I encourage consumers to consider a range of stores, forms of food such as fresh or frozen, and types of food to ensure your family’s standard of healthy is met.”

Dr. Wiseman adds that sustainable and ethical foods are often produced on a small scale and use more expensive methods of production, resulting in higher prices. “This price-quality trade-off is a choice that Canadians will need to make based on their own willingness to pay and their disposable income.”

3. Watch for ways to help each other. Many Canadian consumers are already doing everything they can to find affordable, healthy food. “The reality is that many Canadians’ wages are not keeping up with rising food and housing costs,” explains Alyssa Gerhardt, a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie who worked on the Food Price Report. “The responsibility of mitigating the challenges of food unaffordability cannot just fall on consumers. Community collectives around food, like community gardens, or buying local when possible, can help mitigate these challenges.”