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Industry NewsCanadian food prices will climb 2.5% to 4.5% as grocery spend declines:...

Canadian food prices will climb 2.5% to 4.5% as grocery spend declines: Report

Food prices are expected to increase 5 per cent in 2024 while Canadians continue to reduce expenditures on groceries amidst additional pressures of higher costs for rent and utilities and rising personal debt. That’s the findings of the 14th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report 2024.

The annual report, co-authored by Dalhousie University, the University of British Columbia, University of Guelph and the University of Saskatchewan, provides a comprehensive outlook on factors influencing food pricing patterns and predictions on consumer food expenditures for 2024.

Canadians are spending less on food this year despite inflation. Food retail sales data indicates a decline from a monthly spend of $261.24 per capita in August 2022 to a monthly spend of $252.89 per capita in August 2023, indicating that Canadians are reducing their expenditures on groceries, either by reducing the quantity or quality of food they are buying or by substituting less expensive alternatives. Canadians are facing additional pressures including higher costs for rent and utilities, and rising personal debt. A recent report by TransUnion found that the average Canadian has a credit card bill of $4,000 and a 4.2 per cent increase in household debt compared to last year,  all of which are possible contributors to reduced food expenditures for Canadians.

In 2024, the annual food expenditure for a household comprised of an adult man (31-50 years old), an adult woman (31–50 years old), a teenage boy (14-18) and a girl (9-13),  is projected to $16,297.20, an increase of up to $701.70 compared to the annual expenditure for a family within the same demographic composition in 2023.

Food prices by province

In 2024, Canada is expected to face a widespread increase in food inflation. This anticipated rise in food prices can be predominantly attributed to the rising costs of inputs, heightened transportation expenses, and the detrimental effects of climate change on crop yields. It is foreseen that all provinces may experience price increases of up to 4.5% in the coming year. While data remains scarce for Northern Canada, particularly for the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, it is probable that these territories will face higher food prices compared than the rest of Canada. They are more vulnerable to major factors affecting food prices.

The 2024 Watch-List Items

Prices for all food categories could rise by as much as 4.5 per cent in 2024, with the most significant increases of 5 to 7 per cent evident in the categories of bakery, meat, and vegetables.

The report also outlines factors that will impact food prices in 2024, including grocery competition in Canada and Bill C-56, which proposes amendments to the Competition Act to enhance affordability in the grocery market. “The hope is that C56 may have a positive impact on prices in the grocery sector by encouraging and increasing competition,” note the report’s authors.

Read the full report.

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