A customer shops at a meat counter in a grocery store in Montreal, on April 30, 2020. The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest ever increase predicted by an annual food price report. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A customer shops at a meat counter in a grocery store in Montreal, on April 30, 2020. The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest ever increase predicted by an annual food price report. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Canadian families will pay up to $695 more a year for groceries in 2021, report says

Vegetables could be particularly hard hit, with prices expected to jump as much as 6.5 per cent

The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $695 for food next year, as the pandemic, wildfires and changing consumer habits drive up grocery bills to the highest increase ever predicted by an annual food price report.

Rising bread, meat and vegetable prices are expected to lead the overall food price increase of three to five per cent, according to Canada’s Food Price Report 2021 released Tuesday.

For an average family of four, that means a $13,907 grocery bill.

“We don’t expect a break at the grocery store any time soon,” said Sylvain Charlebois, lead author and Dalhousie University professor of food distribution and policy.

“This is the highest increase that we’ve ever expected.”

The 11th edition of the food price report, published annually by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, has expanded this year to include the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia, making it more national in scope.

Researchers said in the study that COVID-19 will continue impacting food prices next year, with the meat industry particularly vulnerable to potential labour shortages, logistics disruptions, food plant and distribution centre slowdowns and shifts in consumer demand.

While meat prices could increase as much as 6.5 per cent overall, the biggest price hike could be for poultry, a supply managed industry in Canada.

Poultry prices are up seven per cent since July, Charlebois said, adding that as production costs continue to rise, so will retail prices.

“We are expecting poultry prices to be a bit of an issue,” he said.“If farmers are asked to spend more on equipment and COVID-19 cleaning protocols, consumers will eventually have to pay more.”

Meanwhile, climate change, including heat waves, ice loss, wildfires, floods and droughts, will also influence how much we pay for groceries next year.

Vegetables could be particularly hard hit, with prices expected to jump as much as 6.5 per cent, according to the report.

Much of the produce Canadians consume comes from California, a state that has been ravaged by one of the worst wildfire seasons on record.

With California’s crops heavily compromised by smoke and ongoing challenges with COVID-19, Stuart Smyth with the University of Saskatchewan said prices will be pushed up.

“Vegetables are where people are going to notice the greatest impact,” said Smyth, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

While the price of root crops like potatoes and carrots should remain stable, he said leafy greens and more perishable produce like tomatoes and cucumbers will be more expensive.

Yet some of the biggest price increases could be for vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and asparagus, said Smyth, the chair of Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement.

READ MORE: Belligerent man arrested in Victoria grocery store after refusing to wear mask

Meanwhile, the study warned consumers to expect bakery prices to increase as much as 5.5 per cent.

The cost of a bushel of wheat hit about $6 in November, Smyth said, up from about $4 roughly 18 months ago — a 50 per cent increase.

The issue is about supply and demand, he said, noting that while “wheat acres” or the amount produced has remained relatively stable in Canada, demand has steadily risen.

“If we hold supply constant but the demand goes up, essentially we’re falling a little bit behind,” Smyth said.

Meanwhile, the latest report has broken down average food costs for individuals based on age and gender, allowing consumers to estimate their potential food expenditures based on their own situation.

While it continues to provide the estimated cost of feeding a family of four, the report also shows that a man aged 31 to 50 can expect to pay $169 more for food next year, while a woman of the same age can expect to pay $152 more.

Brett Bundale, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Groceries

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stettler resident Jaden Norman is pictured here outside of the Stettler Learning Centre where she lends a helping hand as a volunteer tutor. photo contributed
Stettler’s Jaden Norman has discovered the many joys of giving back

National Volunteer Week runs April 18th to 24th

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
A commercial building, housing two businesses, in Stettler was completed destroyed by a fire Thursday. (Photo courtesy Stettler Regional Fire Department)
Fire destroys commercial building in Stettler

Giant plume of smoke attracts spectators

Stettler County
Highlights from County of Stettler council – April 14th

The County of Stettler has received a clean audit for the 16th year in a row

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

A empty classroom is pictured at Eric Hamber Secondary school in Vancouver, B.C. Monday, March 23, 2020. The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Most Read