OPINION: Food price summit hard to see
February 7, 2023 | By Mario Cywinski
In what seems to be a never ending narrative, food prices do not see any signs of levelling off or decreasing.
According to Statistics Canada, 2022 was an especially bad year for price increases. Food was up 8.9 per cent year over year, with food purchased at stores up 9.8 per cent. This included increases for dairy products (up 8.6 per cent), other food preparations products (up 10.1 per cent), fresh fruit (up 10.4 per cent), fresh vegetables (up 8.3 per cent), cereal products (up 13.4 per cent), and processed meat (up 9.6 per cent).
While food purchased at restaurants went up as well at 6.7 per cent.
For those wondering why their pizza costs more, a pizza price diagram from October 2022 (Statistics Canada) shows that flour and flour-based mixes were up 23.2 per cent; condiments, spices, and vinegars were up 12.8 per cent; fresh vegetables up 11 per cent; cheese up 9.9 per cent; and meat up 5.5 per cent.
Looking forward, Canada’s Food Price Report (published by Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Saskatchewan) predicts that bakery, dairy, meat, and other items will increase five to seven per cent in 2023, while fruits will go up three to five per cent, vegetables at six to eight per cent, and seafood at four to six per cent. Finally, restaurant prices are set to increase four to six per cent.
Overall, the report sees a total increase in food of five to seven per cent. Breaking things down by province, the report sees food prices going up in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan. While going down in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec.
What led to these increases?
Statistics Canada’s Behind the Numbers: What’s Causing Growth in Food Prices found that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact.
Supply chain disruptions in many sectors also impacted the food industry (processing, packaging, and transportation), similarly labour shortages were a concern, as were the evolving way consumers are purchasing (which moved the food supply from restaurants to stores).
Additionally, areas where things are grown had poor weather (droughts, floods, heat waves, freezing), tariffs changed, input costs rose, and wages continued to increase.
Hopefully, the recent COVID-19 variant, ‘kraken’ does not take us backwards, and supply chain issues, labour shortages, and more continue to improve in 2023.