Grocery prices in Canada continue their meteoric rise, rising at the fastest pace since 1981

Shea McInnis used to love cooking.

But the high prices reduced a doctoral student’s ability to plan meals on a tight budget.

“Now it’s just about the nutrition I can produce with the dollars I have,” said McInnes, who teaches at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. “I make a lot of decisions based on whether there is a sale. The fun and the joy are gone.”

Food inflation remains high in Canada Grocery prices rose at the fastest pace in more than four decades last month.

And while overall inflation rates eased in August, the cost of store-bought food rose by a staggering 10.8 percent from a year ago.

This is the fastest clip ever recorded by statistics Canada Since 1981.

High prices swept almost every aisle of the grocery store.

Even items that were once considered cheaper alternatives to more expensive products are not immune to inflation.

For example, frozen and dried vegetables — usually considered a budget-friendly option — jumped 14.1 percent last month from a year ago while fresh vegetables rose 9.3 percent.

A similar trend has emerged in the meat department.

“A few months ago when beef and pork prices were going up dramatically, you could have replaced chicken,” said James Orlando, director of TD Economics.

“The opposite is happening now as beef and pork price inflation slows and chicken prices are increasing.”

The prices of many basic foodstuffs also increased significantly.

Flour prices rose 23.5% in August compared to the same month last year, pasta prices rose 20.7%, bread 17.6%, eggs 10.9%, fresh fruits 13.2%, and fats and oils 27.7%.

Even simple potatoes have double-digit price gains.

A new survey released Tuesday said persistently high prices are pushing Canadians to adopt new shopping habits to save money.

The survey found that Canadian consumers shop more at discount stores, buy cheaper store brands, use loyalty programs and look for deals in weekly flyers.

“Food inflation is lingering and really starting to determine where and how people buy food,” said Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University and director of the Agri-Food Analytics Laboratory, who conducted the survey with Cadell, an online data platform.

The survey also found that nearly a quarter of Canadians have reduced the amount of food they have purchased over the past year due to higher grocery prices.

“Some people buy less food,” Charlebois said. “There are food concessions that many Canadians have made.”

In an effort to save money, McInnes said he cut back on both foods and healthy foods.

“I was really enjoying going to the bakery department and buying some cookies or cake for dessert,” he said. “But now that I’m trying to get as much mileage out of my money as possible, I’m cutting it off.”

He also stopped eating the same amount of salad. The high cost of vegetables and the risk of spoilage in fresh foods make it not worth it, he said.

“I definitely made sacrifices at the grocery store to try and save money,” McCins said.

Some relief from higher food prices can be mitigated because easing input costs reduces pressure on food prices.

“With transportation costs and agricultural commodity prices now off their peak, the trend in food inflation should begin to ease by the end of this year and into 2023,” Andrew Grantham, chief economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note to clients.

Michael Medline, President and CEO of Sobeys Inc. Last week, grocery store inflation may have peaked Canada With the stability of rising prices of food manufacturers.

He said during an earnings call that the number and rate of cost increases being passed on to the grocery chain of food suppliers has begun declining in recent weeks.

Grocers have been widely criticized for rising food prices and spreading solid profits throughout the pandemic.

But Michelle Waseline, a spokeswoman for the Retail Council at CanadaGrocers are not responsible, he said.

Instead, she said, supply chain disruptions, extreme weather events and the invasion of Ukraine have all driven up costs for farmers and importers.

They, in turn, raise prices for food manufacturers, processors, and wholesalers, who pass on these price increases to groceries.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on September 20, 2022.