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Food inflation: How Canada's grocery prices compares to other nations

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Many Canadians are struggling to adjust spending habits at the grocery store as food inflation continues to bring sticker shock at the checkout.

On a global scale however, Canadian food prices are surprisingly among the lowest, according to one study.

A report published in May by e-commerce platform Ubuy compared Canadian food inflation rates to the U.S., U.K., Australia and the European Union. Gathering data from three separate timeframes over the past 12 months, three years and five years, researchers were able to find food inflation ranges differently among several nations.

Globally, the report found on average food inflation increased by 18.2 per cent in the last 12 months, 30.8 per cent in the last three years and 36.3 per cent in the last five.

The U.K. and European Union saw the highest inflation spike with both seeing a jump of 19.6 per cent over the last 12 months. The country with the highest reported food inflation was Hungary with an increase of 45.1 per cent during the 12-month period. Conversely, the nation with the lowest food inflation was the EU nation of Cyprus, which saw an increase of 6.1 per cent.

HOW DOES CANADA COMPARE?

Despite Canadian food prices reaching new heights in 2022, in comparison to other nations, Canada ranked the second lowest nation in the world for food inflation rate, according to the report.

Over the last 12 months, Canada reported an increase of 8.9 per cent, nearly 10 per cent less than the global average. The report shows an average increase of 21 per cent was seen over the last three years and a 25.1 per cent increase was reported in the last five years.

According to the report, grocery store items that saw the highest price increases were edible oils, excluding olive oil, which jumped 19.3 per cent in 12 months and more than 50 per cent in five years.

Pasta products also increased by 14.2 per cent in 12 months and 37.1 per cent in five years.

In comparison, products like bread, eggs, cheese and butter saw the highest increase globally, with Slovakia seeing the largest price increase on eggs in the last 12 months. Canada reported an increase of 11.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, the U.S. was ranked the nation with the lowest overall food price inflation with the country reporting an increase of 8.5 per cent in 12 months, 24.1 per cent in three years and 26.4 per cent in five years, according to the report.

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METHODOLOGY

Ubuy's report gathered data in April 2023 from countries in the European Union, U.K., as well as the U.S., Australia and Canada. The report included data on products considered essential in a typical household's grocery basket. Inflation in prices was calculated as a relative percentage difference between the average index value in 2023, compared to the average index value in the same period of 2022 (12-month inflation), 2019 (inflation since the pandemic), and 2018 (five year inflation). Annual index values were aggregated using the mean average of the respective price index values across a given year. For 2023, the average index value is based on price indices for the first 3 months of the year. To estimate which products went up in price the most, the average per cent increase in index value was taken across all the countries in the dataset. 

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