Meat prices provide shoppers with relief

Food price report predicts lower meat prices

Families won’t have to skip the meat aisle next year, according to an annual food price report.

Vegetable prices will jump four and six per cent, while meat is expected to fall between one and three per cent, according to the report from researchers at the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University.

Since 2015, researchers have predicted meat prices would rise as high as six per cent each year, so a possible decline is something new.

On average, food prices are expected to rise between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent, which means the average family of four will spend $12,157 next year — up $411 from 2018.

Kelly Smith-Fraser, vice-chair of Alberta Beef Producers, said retail beef prices are down 4.2 per cent from last October and prices have been below last year’s since May.

“But according to the numbers, we’re in line with the five-year average right now,” said Smith-Fraser of Pine Lake.

The average price for ground beef was $11.94 last month, according to Statistics Canada.

She said the domestic beef supply is up six per cent, but retail prices have held up well, even though it’s been a trying year for producers.

“We had a long, cold winter and spring, and then we went into a very dry summer, so for producers across Alberta, we experienced a drought that we hadn’t experienced for a lot of years.”

Producers were selling calves earlier this fall because of the drought, and a delayed harvest raised concerns over feed prices and availability. But calf prices were good into late fall, she said.

As the movement toward eating less animal protein in favour of alternative proteins, such as quinoa and lentils, has grown, Alberta Beef Producers came out with a new line of brochures about nutrition, hormones, antibiotic use and greenhouse gas emissions to educate consumers.

Consumers have a right to make their own dietary choices, but producers encourage people to base their choice on accurate nutritional benefits, Smith-Fraser said.

“We like to put out the science behind nutritional benefits and make sure that information is readily available to consumers.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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