Food Inflation Nearly Double Official Word

Food prices have risen of late in this country, with climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic the chief culprits, but a new study suggests the official data is underestimating the increase.

According to Statistics Canada, food prices are up 2.7% over the past 12 months. But, new research from Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab published Wednesday shows the food inflation rate in Canada is closer to five per cent.

Meat products have seen the largest price spike, with Statistics Canada data noting those products have become 10 per cent more expensive over the past six months.

In partnership with consumer insights startup Caddle, the Dalhousie lab surveyed 10,000 Canadians over the summer to determine how consumers are responding to rising grocery bills.

Nearly half of Canadians (49%) said they have reduced their purchases of meat products over the past six months due to higher prices. In Alberta, a majority of consumers (57%) acknowledged cutting back on meat since the start of this year.

Many Canadians are also spending more time and effort searching for the best deals than they did last year. The survey found 42% of respondents were reading their weekly grocery store flyer more often this year than in 2020.

Nearly as many (40%) said they were purchasing discounted products with expiry/best before dates within a few days of purchase more often in 2021 than they were last year. More than one in four Canadians (26.9%) said they are buying products with an "enjoy tonight" label more often this year than they did in 2020.