Grocery stores can foresee a rise in produce prices. PHOTO SOURCE: Piqsels

Olivia Roest is a first-year public relations student at Mount Royal University. She works at the recreation centre and as a supervisor for the MRU Cougars’ hockey games. Roest, who handles two jobs while living on residence says she has definitely felt the effects of rising food costs.

“For the most part, I’d say the majority of my paycheque is spent on food… I tried to buy apples the other day, it was like $12. No way,” she says. 

Why are prices rising?

A recent food price report that was done by the Universities of Dalhousie, Guelph, Saskatchewan and British Columbia analyzed the economic and social factors that can contribute to rising costs. 

Simon Somogyi, a professor in the school of hospitality, food and tourism management at the University of Guelph, was also the project lead of the food price report. 

He says fuel prices have risen drastically over the past few months.

“And that means that the cost of moving food from the farm to the retail shelves gets more expensive. And that cost gets passed on in higher food prices,” Somogyi says. “We’ve had a lot of droughts in North America, particularly in the prairie provinces, and in California, where we get a lot of our food from, and that means the supply has been less, which means prices increase.”

The forecast is that food prices are only anticipated to grow.

“We’re predicting a five to seven per cent increase in food prices for 2022. So that’s all food products. But for some food categories, we expect higher increases,” says Somogyi.

As you head into the grocery store, you can expect to see a rise in prices for dairy, vegetables and meat products.  

Dairy goods might experience an eight per cent increase, vegetables could see a five per cent to seven per cent increase, and meat prices could see a three to five per cent upsurge.

The costs of wheat-based baked goods are also expected to rise as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We’re also predicting a 16 per cent increase for bakery products because of higher grain prices due to droughts, and maybe even due to some of the issues that we’re seeing in Ukraine at the moment. Because Ukraine is a big wheat producer,” Somogyi says. 

What can we do to save money?

Because Canada’s climate is too harsh during the winter, frozen food is one alternative that Canadians are adopting, especially during this time of year.

“In the frozen food aisle, there’s carrots and peas and corn and different types of berries. Those vegetables and fruits are snap frozen when they’re harvested, which means that the nutrition of those products is locked in so they’re just as nutritious as the fresh ones or sometimes even more nutritious… Frozen fruits and vegetables are a good substitute for fresh and they’re a lot cheaper,” Somogyi said. 

To save money, balancing your budget can help.

“Buy what you need. Prevent impulse buys by going to the grocery store with a list and only buying what you need, not getting distracted by specials and other things that you don’t necessarily need. Looking at fliers and looking online for good specials,” Somogyi says. 

“So it’s really about being smart with your money,” 

Roest’s purchasing habits have altered to adjust to the price of groceries while also still having enough money for personal necessities.

“I pretty much spend my money on food. I don’t do a ton of other things. I guess maybe some skincare stuff here and there if it’s needed,” Roest said. “I use more rewards cards and try to use the coupons and things that are coming through to buy my food because it is so expensive. Like it’s kind of just picking and choosing.”

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