One of the greatest banes of our generation is that wages aren’t keeping up with inflation. Adding insult to injury, the price of food is increasing at a higher rate than inflation.
According to Canada’s Food Price Report 2021, Canadians should expect to pay three to five per cent more for food this year than in 2020. The increase is spurred mostly by the rising cost of bread, meat and vegetables.
The report forecasts Canadians will spend $695 more on food this year than in 2020. In 2020, the average Canadian family spent around $12,500 on food, including at restaurants.
“Families with less means will be significantly challenged in 2021, and many will be left behind,” says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, project lead and Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Immunity to higher food prices requires more cooking, more discipline and more research. It’s as simple as that.”
So, why is this happening? Look no further than COVID-19. Facility closures, shifting consumer demand and unemployment, as well as modifications in production, manufacturing, distribution and retailing practices to enhance safety all contribute to higher cost of food. And that’s not all. A weak dollar and oil price war are also significant factors.
Vegetables will see the biggest increase, from 4.5 to 6.5%. One solution is to buy frozen, which is usually cheaper. Experts are hopeful that a bountiful summer harvest season will soften prices. Most importantly, Canadian don’t need to fear food supply shortages. One positive development could be a focus on local supply chains instead of relying heavily on imports from the United States and Mexico.
Unfortunately, the future remains bleak for restaurants. Owners will likely need to increases prices at a time when more Canadians are choosing to cook at home.