Families will spend more than $400 more for groceries next year, a new report says
By Diego Flammini
The price of putting food on dinner tables around Canada is rising, but farmers won’t be getting any of the increase.
Canadian families will spend an average of $411 more on groceries in 2019, Canada’s Food Price Report says. That amount equals an average increase of $34.25 per month.
Families will spend about $12,157 annually on groceries next year, the report says.
Food prices in several categories are expected to rise.
The prices of fruits and vegetables, for example, could increase between 1 and 6 per cent respectively, the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University publication says.
But that potential rise in retail costs doesn’t necessarily translate to increased revenue for farmers.
Minimum wage in Ontario jumped to $14 per hour from $11.60 at the beginning of 2018.
That means others in the supply chain had to raise prices to offset production costs, said Linda Grimo, a fruit and nut producer from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.
“Farmers don’t benefit at all,” she told Farms.com. “Our labour expenses havegone up so much and there’s no way to recoup that off the price of the product.”
While a higher minimum wage does contribute to higher food costs, it can also help strengthen food safety and quality.
“I feel strongly that minimum wage should be $15 per hour,” she said. “It wasn’t Canadian romaine lettuce that had a problem. And part of having good, safe food is having a labour force that handles food properly.
“We employ hard workers who keep our food safe, so for grocery bills to go up a little more than $400 per year is nothing.”
Lower retail costs will also affect farmers’ bottom lines.
Meat prices in grocery stores could drop by as much as 3 per cent. An increased interest in plant-based proteins is responsible for part of the price drop.
“In 2018, many local butchers closed their doors due to lack of demand, and this trend is expected to continue in 2019,” the report says.
Producers are already feeling the effects of consumers turning away from traditional sources of protein.
“Prices are already pretty low on our end and it looks like consumption is going down,” Ron Peare, a 100-head beef producer from Bruce County, Ont., told Farms.com. “There’s definitely room for the price to go up substantially.”