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Bad news, Canada: the Food Price Report, released this week by the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University, predicts a one to three per cent increase in food costs in the coming year. That will set a family of four back by approximately an extra $348 in 2018. The good news is that the rate of inflation is lower than it was in 2017 and there’s a simple way to decrease the impact: eat out less.

The majority of the price increase will reportedly come from the cost of vegetables and eating at restaurants. There’s not much we can do about the veggies — climate patterns haven’t been friendly to them lately and we still need to eat them — but eating out is something we can all manage for ourselves.

Increased prices aren’t the only food trends we’re going to be seeing in the next year. We’re at a point where grocery shopping is rapidly changing and with Amazon and the rise of meal kits, we might all have a little more incentive to stay in and cook. Here are the ways we could see grocery shopping change in 2018.

Amazon takeover

Amazon wants your business, but more than that, they want your data so they can use it to get your business. You can already buy your groceries through Amazon in Canada, but very few people are taking advantage of the service right now. In the coming year, we’ll likely see an increase in the popularity of using Amazon for packaged grocery shopping.

Be cautious of this though. When you buy your groceries from the orange retailer, they learn all sorts of things about you and your family. Seeing your groceries is like going through your garbage. Amazon will get insight into if you have kids or pets, your health and exactly what brands you like. Are we ready for them to have that kind of info?

Store innovations

Amazon Go is a pilot project in Seattle where Amazon Prime users can enter the grocery store, grab what they need and then walk right out through scanners that read all the items and charge them to the customer’s Prime account. No cashiers, just literally grab and go. With patented technology like that, Amazon is forcing other stores to innovate faster to compete. They’re still working out the bugs and we’re not sure that we’ll ever get Amazon Go in Canada, but it’s certainly got to be making traditional grocery stores a little nervous.

Meal Kits

Companies like Blue Apron, Chefs Plate and GoodFood offer the fun and comfort of cooking at home with the ease of having all the ingredients at the ready. They deliver fresh ingredients and step-by-step instructions on how to put them together into a (typically) healthy meal. Most of the boxes are done by subscription and allow you to select your meals from a seasonal menu every week. We’ll probably see more of a trend toward these as a healthier alternative to eating out.

Click & Collect

Loblaws announced this month that they’re going to be rolling out a click & collect service in the coming year where customers order their groceries online and then pick the full order up in-store at their convenience. Walmart superstores already offer the service, as do a lot of grocery stores in the U.S. In the U.K., 70 per cent of households report using click & collect for shopping. This trend is the most likely to catch on a whole lot in 2018 in Canada, especially once one of our most major grocery chains adds it to their repertoire.