The price of food will be higher for Quebec families next year, notably as a result of the impacts of the pandemic. The grocery basket bill could register its biggest increase in more than a decade, according to a report.
On Tuesday, Dalhousie University, University of Guelph, University of Saskatchewan and University of British Columbia will release the 11e edition of Canadian Food Price Report.
According to researchers’ forecasts, a family of two adults (31 to 50 years old) and two children, a boy (14-18) and a girl (9-13), will have to pay $ 695 (not counting the expenses in the restaurants ) more to eat next year than in 2020.
This is a record since the first draft of this report. The average bill for this household is expected to be $ 13,907.
The report mentions that overall food prices are expected to increase across the country by “3% [à] 5% ”, among other things, due to the continuing effects of COVID-19 on the agri-food chain.
For Quebec, in 2021, researchers estimate that the price increase should be “around 4%”. The food inflation rate should therefore once again exceed that of general inflation.
“More and more people are going to have to spend more of their budget on food. We are leaving an era of affordable food, ”says the director of the Laboratory in Agri-Food Analytical Science at Dalhousie University, Sylvain Charlebois.
“Yes, it is worrying,” he continues, also fearing the impacts of possible tax hikes to fill government deficits on families’ wallets. “They’re going to be thirsty for income,” he says.
It is meat lovers who will have to dip more into their pockets in 2021. The jump in the bill should vary from 4.5% to 6.5%. A similar increase is planned for vegetables. Bakery products are also expected to be more expensive (3.5% to 5.5%).
“It’s very rare that we see poultry, pork and beef be affected in the same year. This was the case in 2020 and it will not stop in December. On the bakery side, wheat is currently more expensive, ”explains Mr. Charlebois. “For fruits and vegetables, this is mainly due to climate change and fires in California,” he adds.
According to Annie Mondou, who lives with her partner, their four children and also her mother, the new increase in the grocery basket is poorly digested, even if she claims not to “deprive herself” to eat well.
She spent $ 800 on food this week, more than usual due to the holiday season. “I’m at the end of the line,” she reacts. “If everything increases, for sure we will have to change some habits. At some point, you have to save a little, ”she adds.
It must be said that in the space of 20 years, the typical Canadian grocery bill has increased by approximately 170%.
In addition to the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change, Mr. Charlebois believes that the growth of e-commerce platforms, the closure of restaurants, the ban on certain single-use plastics and the arrival of ‘a new president from our neighbors to the south should influence the cost of food in the coming months.
The price of meat has exploded
In 2020, lockdowns, sanitary measures, plant closures due to COVID-19 cases, the challenge of foreign workers, the oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia and the fall of the loonie will have had both positive and negative impacts on the grocery cart.
According to the report, the average increase in the cost of food between October 2019 and September 2020 was 2.7%, and it was the price of meat that drove this percentage up. It exploded by 6.1%, that of dairy products, by 3.1% and that of bakery products, by 2.2%.
◆ The 11e Canadian food prices report includes more foods. The basket has been adjusted compared to previous years.
– With the collaboration of Julien McEvoy
The impacts of the pandemic on groceries
Five questions to the director of the Laboratory in Agri-Food Analytical Science at Dalhousie University, Sylvain Charlebois, also responsible for the 11e edition of Canadian Consumer Food Price Report.
In 2021, do you think that supermarkets will resume with a discount offer similar to the one before the pandemic?
“The discounts have never stopped. There are less. To get more, you have to relearn how to become compulsive buyers. Here we are quite mechanical. We follow our list for food. Before COVID-19, we bought a lot of things [dont] we didn’t need to. “
Do you believe that online grocery shopping will become a permanent tool for consumers?
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of grocery stores close due to people’s interest in shopping online. In Canada, it is believed that there could be between 300 and 350 stores that could close within two years. In Quebec, we could talk about quarantine. The big banners plan to spend more than $ 12 billion over the next five years to develop their online business. ”
Could we review buying panic, like in the spring?
“I asked myself the question and we haven’t seen him this fall. There is nothing to indicate that the consumer is going to start buying in panic again. “
Will the sensitivity for local products remain?
“I think it will stay. […] Food self-sufficiency will develop further over the next few years. “
Do you think companies like HelloFresh and GoodFood, which offer boxed meals, will gain in popularity?
“I have a feeling they are going to have more competition. Grocers will begin to further develop their ability to deliver pre-cooked meals. There is money to be made. “
Increases in all food categories:
- Bakery: 3.5% to 5.5%
- Dairy products: 1% to 3%
- Fruits: 2% to 4%
- Meats: 4.5% to 6.5%
- Others: 2% to 4%
- Catering: 3% to 5%
- Seafood: 1.5% to 3.5%
- Vegetables: 4.5% to 6.5%
- Total expected increase: 3% to 5%
Source: Canadian Food Prices Report