Food prices in Canada are projected to rise between five to seven per cent in 2022, according to the recently released 12th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report.
The report, a collaboration between researchers from UBC, Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph and the University of Saskatchewan, projects that in 2022 the average family of four will spend up to $14,767 on food.
We spoke to Dr. Kelleen Wiseman (she/her), the UBC team lead for the report and the director of the master of food and resource economics (MRFE) program, about what changes to anticipate and how to prepare.
What are some key learnings and changes coming up from this round of putting together the report?
There aren’t big changes in the forecasting trend but there are some very high impact elements to keep an eye on. We are seeing the prices of food likely going up somewhere between four to seven per cent over the shorter term and it’s important to understand why they are going up, but at the same time to note that these prices are in line with total inflation. It’s also important to note this is not a blanket increase over all food categories but will impact some food categories more than others, like meat and dairy more than vegetables, for example.
How do conditions like climate disasters and shortages play into what we’re seeing with food supply?
I think a big takeaway from the past year is the fact our food supply chain is resilient and well-managed. With so many changes—from COVID-19 lockdowns, labour shortages, sweeping shutdowns in our sectors, heat domes, floods, changing restrictions at the borders—our food supply chain has responded very well other than a few temporary shortages. This has largely been due to our very globalized system, robust transport system, and the sourcing of products from across the country and world. It’s kind of amazing to see that the quantity, quality and prices of our foods have not been largely impacted in general. Things could have been much worse.
How can people prepare to adjust for these food price changes?
The beauty of a strong and broad supply chain is that we get a wide variety of products. If prices are going up, consumers may choose to adjust their buying behaviour. So, in store, you may make different choices that are more affordable. One might choose fresh items instead of frozen items, or a less expensive product or go for an alternative altogether. Another big impact has been online shopping and app-based shopping which also allow consumers to be more strategic about what they are buying based on their finances.
You can read the 12th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report here.
Interview language(s): English