A recently released survey of 2016 Alberta retail food prices in Red Deer shows that the cost for about half of the items included had increased, while about half decreased over the previous year.
In some cases‚ such as round steak and peanut butter, the increases were substantial.
The study — to help to evaluate the cost of an adequate diet — is based in part on Canada’s National Nutritious Food Basket.
Specific national brands and sizes were chosen in order to get a benchmark pricing standard. The has been undertaken for about 20 years. It includes Alberta’s major cities, as well as a number of smaller communities across the province.
The survey covers 74 food items over a number of categories, including milk products and alternatives, various types of meat, meat alternatives, whole grain products, vegetables and fruits, and processed fruits and vegetables.
The surveys compared were done June 15 to 18 in 2015, and June 20 to 23 in 2016.
Some of the more noticeable June 2016 increases (June 2015 prices in brackets) were: eggs, grade A large, dozen $2.94 ($2.77); inside round steak, boneless, one kg $18.03 ($15.61); chicken, grade A whole fryer, one kg $7.40 ($6.64); peanut butter, smooth or crunchy, one kg $7.50 ($5.93); flour, whole wheat, 5 kg $10.03 ($8.63); cereal, toasted oats O’s, 525 g $6.74 ($4.80); carrots, one kg $2.06 ($1.84); peppers, sweet green bell, one kg $7.25 ($5.40); and apples one kg $4.34 ($3.60).
Some of the bigger decreases in prices between 2015 and 2016 were (2015 prices in brackets): milk, 1 per cent partly skimmed, 2 litre, deposit and recycling fee included, $3.78 ($3.84); bread, whole wheat, private label, 680 g $3.69 ($4.07); pork loin chops, centre-cut, bone-in, one kg $10.12 ($12.47); chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, one kg $13.21 ($14.52); pasta, macaroni or spaghetti, enriched, 900 g $3.82 ($4.25); sweet potato or yam one kg $3.38, ($4.12); lettuce, romaine one kg $4.08 ($4.46); potatoes, red or white 4.54 kg $6.32 ($6.73); and strawberries, frozen, unsweetened, 600 g $5.82 (6.45).
The survey was prepared by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Economics and Competitive Branch, Statistics and Data Development Section, with assistance from Alberta Health Services. AHS dieticians and nutritionists were responsible for collecting the prices in their communities.
The prices are weighted averages of several retail stores. Prices in specific stores were not released and cannot be compared to individual store prices in any community.
The survey notes that caution should be exercised when comparing retail food prices between different communities as different factors, such as competitiveness, may be involved.
An Angus Reid Institute public opinion poll released last April found that people were finding it harder to afford to feed their households.
More than half of all Canadians (57 per cent) said it’s become more difficult to afford to feed their households in the last year. Just four per cent said it’s easier.