Canadians to spend more on food in 2020, report predicts

MarketsFarm — Canadians will spend two to four per cent more on food in 2020, according to the latest Canada Food Price Report from researchers at Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab and the University of Guelph.

The average family in the country will see its total food bill for groceries and restaurant meals rise by as much as $487 in 2020, hitting an expected $12,667, according to the report, which is now in its 10th year.

“This is a significant problem. Already one in eight Canadian households is food insecure and food affordability is a major issue for Canadians,” Guelph project lead Simon Somogyi said in an accompanying release.

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“Wage growth is stagnant. Canadians aren’t making more money, so they’re taking money away from other parts of their budgets just to eat and that gets tougher and tougher. The ever-increasing use of food banks across the country shows us how many Canadians can’t afford to put food on their plates.”

“Food price inflation is desirable, but when rates increase quickly, families can be left behind,” Sylvain Charlebois, lead author and Dalhousie project lead, said in the same release.

“Vegetables are a perfect example. Canada’s new Food Guide encourages Canadians to eat more vegetables, but they’re getting more expensive. Increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits we produce domestically would be a great start in solving this problem,” he said.

All food categories are forecast to go up in price in 2020, with meat in particular expected to go up by four to six per cent despite Canadians’ increasing interest in plant-based protein options.

The forecasting models take into account numerous macroeconomic factors. For 2020, climate change, geopolitical conflicts, energy, materials, inflation, currencies, trade deals, food retail and manufacturing figures, and consumer debt and expenditures all influenced the forecasts.

The report’s authors singled out climate change as “the elephant in the room” for 2020, with Canadian food systems expected to be affected by changing weather patterns.

The methodology used in the report has proved accurate in the past, with the 2019 projections only missing the target by $23.

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