Bad news for those who eat food: prices will continue to climb in 2016.
This year’s Food Price Report from the University of Guelph’s Food Institute predicts an overall jump in cost between two and four per cent over the next 12 months.
Although the grocery store will get more expensive, before eating the cost of food inflation, check out these tips on how to still shop healthy as food prices climb. For example, substituting expensive nuts with cheaper seeds will provide a similar crunchy flavour for a fraction of the cost.
Consider searching for alternatives for some of the foods set to jump most dramatically in cost:
Meat, fruit and nuts top this year’s list, followed closely by vegetables. Compare this to last year when vegetables increased in price by more than 10 per cent:
The food institute had originally forecast a 0.3 to 2.4 per cent overall price increase for 2015. This range was modified to 0.7 to 3.0 per cent in February amid plummeting oil prices and a slumping Canadian dollar. After the revision, vegetables, fruits and nuts were expected to cost more than originally anticipated.
Even after the adjustment, each of these categories ended up rising significantly more than expected. Overall, food in December cost an average of 4.1 per cent more than it did in January of last year.
This pace of inflation for food is above Canada’s overall inflation, and has been since about 2009, according to the consumer price index.
"When it comes to fruits and vegetables, 80 per cent of what we consume is imported, and we have to pay in American dollars right now," Sylvain Charlebois of the Food Institute told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday.
The index – which tracks inflation by comparing the current cost of goods to past prices, using 100 as a baseline number for 2002 costs – shows food prices rising at roughly the same pace as all items up until mid-2008. Since then, food seems to have steadily increased at a faster rate than other goods in Canada.
The Food Institute also surveyed 504 Canadians about our changing habits in terms of beef consumption:
Charlebois said Canada exports a significant amount of raw materials, such as wheat and mustard seeds, which is processed outside of the country.
"Canada is one of the largest exporters of mustard grains in the world," he said, "and we actually buy it back at 20 times the price in a bottle."
He said a low dollar helps build a very strong business case to establish processing plants in Canada.
“Perhaps with a weaker loonie, it is time to rethink about investing in, or building, food processing capacity in this country.”