Gobbling up Canadian family finances

The typical Canadian family will spend up to $420 more on groceries and dining out next year

TORONTO — The typical Canadian family will spend up to $420 more on groceries and dining out next year, getting little relief from a recent drop in the cost of food, suggests a new report released Monday.

A study by researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax estimates food inflation will increase in 2017, driven by a falling loonie and U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s first year in the White House.

Food prices overall are expected to rise between three and five per cent, with meat (especially chicken and pork), vegetables, fish and other seafood among those projected to jump by four to six per cent.

Fruit and nut prices are anticipated to go up between three and five per cent, while the costs of dairy, eggs, bakery goods and cereals are forecast to increase by up to two per cent. Restaurant costs will rise by two to four per cent, the report says.

The study says the sweet spot for food inflation is between one and two per cent, a rate it says is manageable for restaurateurs, grocery stores and consumers.

Sylvain Charlebois, the report’s lead author, says he wouldn’t be surprised if next year’s food inflation surpassed four per cent.

“I think 2016 was volatile and 2017 will be, at the very least, equally as volatile,” Charlebois says.

Last year, Charlebois and the University of Guelph’s Food Institute, which he was previously affiliated with, predicted food prices would rise this year between two and four per cent — or up to $345 for a family of two adults and two children. Based on data from January to October, the cost of food rose 2.5 per cent, the report says.

Food prices fluctuated this year, rising rapidly before later easing off. In October, food prices recorded their first year-over-year drop in nearly 17 years, according to Statistics Canada.

Charlebois expects the cost of food to remain fairly stable over the holidays and into the new year, before starting to edge up around April. The two biggest factors behind that will be the Canadian dollar and the incoming Trump administration, he says.

The researchers expect the loonie to drop, bringing up the price of many of Canada’s imports, including produce and nuts.

Several Trump policies could drive up Canadian grocery bills for the next several years, according to the report. Trump, for example, could deport some of the estimated two million seasonal farm workers who are in the U.S. without legal permission, creating a production shortage and higher prices.

However, Charlebois doesn’t anticipate a recurrence of the so-called cauliflower crisis from earlier this year, when the cost of the vegetable soared to around $10 per head. He says retailers have learned from that and may temporarily halt the import of food with rapidly rising prices.

“They will just move on and import something else.”

Depending on where they live, Canadians will experience different levels of sticker shock at the grocery store and in restaurants, the report says.

Those living in Ontario and B.C. should prepare for above-average food inflation — around four to five per cent, says Charlebois.

The study says residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta should enjoy below-average price increases, while the remaining provinces and the Northwest Territories should expect average rises in food costs.

Just Posted

Red Deer city managers and non-unionized professionals get small raise

It’s needed to attract qualified staff, says HR director

No one injured in Olds cannabis production facility fire

A room in a licensed cannabis production facility in Olds went up… Continue reading

UPDATED: Red Deer Festival of Trees raises more than $1 million

Festival of Trees held last month at Westerner Park

No bending the rules for Red Deer’s cannabis locations

City council sticks to approved setback distances

Growing drug-fuelled emergencies at Red Deer’s Buffalo transitional housing complex

City council approves two additional mental health staffers at complex

Sebastian Giovinco, Jonathan Osorio and Adriana Leon up for top CONCACAF awards

Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Jonathan Osorio are up for CONCACAF male… Continue reading

Huitema, Cornelius named 2018 Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

TORONTO — Canada Soccer has named striker Jordyn Huitema and defender Derek… Continue reading

Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse

You might be forgiven for feeling superhero overload this holiday season. Had… Continue reading

‘Modern Family’s’ Sarah Hyland had second kidney transplant

LOS ANGELES — “Modern Family” star Sarah Hyland says she had a… Continue reading

Orlando SC acquires Canadian Tesho Akindele in trade with FC Dallas for cash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Canadian forward Tesho Akindele was traded to Orlando City… Continue reading

Koskinen notches third shutout, McDavid gets winner as Oilers blank Flames 1-0

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers appear to have shored up their defence… Continue reading

Beyonce performs at pre-wedding party in India

Beyonce brought her star power to a pre-wedding party for the daughter… Continue reading

Kirk Douglas celebrates 102nd birthday

LOS ANGELES — Actor Kirk Douglas got to celebrate his 102nd birthday… Continue reading

Most Read