Families face annual food bill of $14,000

Food prices in Canada are trending upwards. A family of four will look to pay over $14,700 next year. Canada’s Food Price Report released in December forecasts an overall increase of five to seven percent for 2020 — with B.C. prices predicted to be even higher. 

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  • Billed once per year until cancelled

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Dairy is predicted to increase six to eight percent, and bakery and vegetables five to seven percent. Seafood and meat prices should remain relatively stable.

“The beauty of a strong and broad supply chain is that we get a wide variety of products,” says Dr. Kelleen Wiseman, UBC lead. “If prices are going up, consumers may choose to adjust their buying behaviour. So, in store, you may make different choices that are more affordable. 

“Most Canadians could eat more vegetables,” she adds. “Options are available in selecting alternative vegetables or frozen vegetables — which can provide high nutritional value at a lower price point.” 

Consumers’ food choices are, more and more, motivated by health and environmental sustainability. Many plan to continue their COVID-19 shopping habits, including purchasing from local farmers’ markets and sourcing groceries online.

“I think a big takeaway from the past year is the fact our food supply chain is resilient,” says Wiseman. “With so many changes— from COVID-19 lockdowns, labour shortages, sweeping shutdowns in our sectors, heat domes, floods, changing restrictions at the borders— our food supply chain has responded very well other than a few temporary shortages. This has largely been due to our very globalized system and robust transport system. 

“It’s kind of amazing to see that the quantity, quality and prices of our foods have not been largely impacted in general.” —Editors