A new report by a group of researchers from the University of Guelph, Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Community College suggests that the average Canadian household of four could pay up to $400 more in groceries in 2019.
There’s good news for Canadian consumers buying meat and seafood as prices will drop dramatically, but those looking for healthy produce will see prices begin to skyrocket.
In past years, demand for meat and seafood has been strong. Now, with many Canadians turning to plant-based and vegan diets, demand for fresh produce is rising quickly.
Canada’s Food Price Report predicts that meat prices will drop by three per cent and seafood by two per cent. But there will be a four-per-cent to six-per-cent hike in the cost of vegetables and fresh produce.
Suppliers are beginning to feel the impact of a new generation of food consumers. Sixty-three per cent of vegans are under the age of 36, according to Mary Klopahan, a dietician of 20 years.
“Millennials have a vision of animal right and human rights and they are portraying this throughout their diets,” she said. “Ninety-nine per cent of the time when I ask why someone has become vegan, it is due to the inhumane slaughter of animals.”
In addition to the dramatic shift in the consumer market, the Canada Food Guide is scheduled to be updated, according to the Food Price Report.
The Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives, an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social, economic and environmental justice, says Canadians make food choices depending on their income. Ontario director Trish Hennessy says there are people who are buying organic produce and eating out frequently; there are also people who are buying canned soups and unable to intake any nutrients.
Holly Roastan, a single mother of five, knows the dilemma well.
“It’s hard to raise a family and be able to provide them with all the healthy nutrients,” she said. “Being a single mother, all the weight of it is put on you. There have been times where we have had to sacrifice food for clothing or vice versa. Vegetables and healthy products already cost a lot, so this rise will mean an unhealthy diet — not done by choice; it’s done to survive.”
Last year the study projected food prices to rise between one and three per cent. The actual increase was 1.8 per cent according to Statistics Canada. Fruit was the only group to prove the study inaccurate, as prices remained stable. All together prices increased, but at the low range of what was predicted.