Food prices are going up. The average family of four in Canada is expected to spend over $16,000 on food in a year. That’s about an extra $700 in spending at the grocery store compared to 2023. This from Canada’s Food Price Report 2024. It predicts food prices will increase between 2.5 and 4.5 per cent in 2024. Down from the five to seven per cent increase in 2023.
“A little bit of it relates to the fact that commodity prices have largely come down in a lot of the key food ingredients and food categories,” said Stuart Smyth, an agricultural and resource economics professor for the University of Saskatchewan, adding, “as an example wheat prices have come down about 25 per cent over the course of 2023 and there’s some other examples you know corn and soybeans down a little bit.”
The reaction to the projected inflation rates for food prices in Canada is mixed in Montreal.
“Well, it’s not reassuring for me because I’ve already seen that it’s increasing,” said Sonia Molina, a Montrealer, while shopping for groceries in the Mile End. “It’s a bit stressful.”
“If the price is going down apparently, well, inflation will be less. It’s good news,” said another Montrealer while grocery shopping.
“I feel very bad because it’s more expensive and it’s more difficult to live in Montreal,” said Simon Vevaux Lardeux, a CÉGEP student living in Montreal.
The annual report forecasting food prices is produced in collaboration with four Canadian universities and includes the work of more than 30 experts. It also details predictions for specific food groups. Dairy and fruit are expected to increase in price by one to three per cent, while baked goods, meat and vegetables could increase from five to seven per cent.
“If you’re seeing meat prices projected to increase five to seven per cent and you see a really good sale,” explained Smyth, “instead of just buying meat for four weeks, I’m going to go and buy it for a three month period, spend a little bit of extra money and then store it at home so I’m saving some money.”
Smyth adds the estimated increase of 2.5 to 4.5 per cent for 2024 provides customers with much needed relief from the higher increases observed in previous years. However, many are still concerned and have already made changes to what they’re buying in order to stay within their food budgets.
“Yes, I changed a lot. For example, the beef, I don’t eat now because it’s more expensive,” said Lardeux.
“I’m going more to the least expensive vegetables that I can find and I’m really trying to cut and not buy things that I don’t necessarily need and try to cook everything,” explained Molina.