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Food prices for Canadian families on the rise

Canada's Food Price Report by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph said prices will increase by 2 to 4 percent.

Researchers at Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph are forecasting that food prices for Canadian families will rise between two to four percent in 2020.

The forecast comes in the 10th annual edition of Canada’s Food Price Report, bringing the predicted annual cost of food for the average Canadian family to $12,667, an increase of $487 over 2019.

Canada’s Food Price Report 2020 is released jointly by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph. Predictions are made using historical data sources, machine learning algorithms, and predictive analytics tools developed over many years.

Last year’s forecast for annual food spending by the average Canadian family is expected to come within $23.

“We were surprised by how accurate our forecast was, despite vegetable prices going up by 12% rather than the predicted 4 to 6%,” said Dalhousie Project Lead Sylvain Charlebois, Professor in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture.

“Forecasting is not easy, and we have learned from our successes and failures over the last 10 years.

“Food inflation is desirable, but when prices increase quickly families can be left behind.”

The report’s authors forecast the following price changes for 2020, with meat in particular forecast to go up in price by 4 to 6% despite Canadians’ increasing interest in plant-based protein options.

“Canadians deserve to know more about price changes in the food they consume and how those changes will impact them,” adds Dalhousie researcher Eamonn McGuinty.

“This year, the Report reiterates the key headlines impacting food prices for Canadians: climate change, geopolitical conflicts, single-use plastic packaging, the effect of increasingly protectionist trade environments on Canada’s exports, disease outbreaks, and the ongoing technological disruption of the supply chain giving rise to more customizable and tailored food options."

The report’s authors forecast the following price changes for 2020, with meat in particular forecast to go up in price by 4 to 6% despite Canadians’ increasing interest in plant-based protein options.

The report says already, one in eight Canadian households is food insecure, which doesn’t bode well for Canadian families struggling to afford healthy food.

“With wage growth stagnant, Canadians aren’t making more money, but they still have to eat,” said Guelph Project Lead Simon Somogyi of the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics. 

“The ever-increasing use of food banks across the country is an example of how Canadians can’t afford to put food on their plates.”

Food price increases in 2020 in British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island are expected to exceed the national average, while price increases in Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia are expected to be lower than the national average.

The cost of food in Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador is likely to align with the national average.