Supply chain inefficiencies leading to 'shelflation' at Canadian grocery stores: researcher
Better protections and options for consumers are just some of the ways Ottawa can help address food unaffordability in Canada, the lead author behind a new price report says, as average grocery bills are expected to rise in the new year.
Sylvain Charlebois, a Dalhousie University professor and director of the school's Agri-Food Analytics Lab, spoke to CTV's Your Morning and CTV News Channel on Monday about Canada's Food Price Report for 2023, which predicts an upcoming increase in grocery costs between five and seven per cent.
A family of four can expect their annual grocery bill to rise $1,065 to $16,288 in 2023, building on months of price increases that haven't been seen in decades.
Prices should begin to level off in the latter half of 2023, Charlebois said, amid an expected economic downturn and grocers potentially offering more deals to consumers.
Along with the war in Ukraine, he said supply chain "inefficiencies" have also compromised the shelf life of certain products, a term referred to as "shelflation," which is estimated to have cost Canadians hundreds of millions of dollars in just half a year.
Canadians also may have noticed the price of lettuce spiked several weeks ago amid a shortage in California.
"The fact that there are breakdowns across the supply chain will actually offer consumers products that are not as fresh as they used to (be)," Charlebois said.
"So when you buy a product, you go home, it won't last as long and you're basically forced to throw away that product, which adds to your food bill, essentially."
Charlebois, along with executives from Loblaw and Empire Co., is taking part in the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food's study on food price inflation.
On top of strengthening Canada's Competition Bureau, Charlebois said the country needs more "supply chain discipline" and greater protections for independent grocers.
"We've seen a lot of stores close the last little while and we need more options for consumers. Those are the things that I would recommend to Ottawa right now," he said.
For now, his advice to consumers – if you see a product that is too expensive don't buy it, since prices change so rapidly.
"Give yourself a chance, give yourself some time and you'll save some money," Charlebois said.
With files from CTVNews.ca Writer Tara De Boer, CTVNews.ca Online Politics Producer Rachel Aiello and The Canadian Press
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