Late last month, we reported that food prices had outpaced inflation for the fourth year in a row. Experts at the University of Guelph had found that the cost of vegetables, in one year alone, had shot up 10 per cent. Meat, fruit and nuts didn’t fare much better, rising about nine and five per cent respectively.
As bad as that news already was, we now have something even worse to report: Prices are going to rise even more.
“It’s a scary year as the Canadian dollar continues to move down,” Mike Von Massow, an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, said. “We probably didn’t expect for the loonie to get as low as it did.”
Von Massow is among the authors of the University of Guelph’s annual food report, and he’s not expecting 2016 to be a good year for grocery prices. In the case of fruits, vegetables and other produce, for example, his team estimated that costs would rise anywhere from two to four per cent. Because of the declining dollar and price of oil though, Von Massow is almost certain prices will rise accordingly. And not just by the team’s conservative estimate of 2 per cent, either. We’re talking the full 4 per cent.
“We’ve seen [food costs] go up significantly with the depreciation of the Canadian dollar,” he said.
In fact, Von Massow says that for every cent the loonie drops, food prices will rise by approximately 1 per cent. The bulk of these costs will affect products Canada is forced to import – think fruits, nuts and veggies.
There is a little shred of good news here, however. The winter season increases the amount of food the country is forced to import from around the world, leaving consumers at the mercy of these fluctuating prices. Once summer arrives, Canadian crops will begin to bloom and cheaper alternatives will likely be made available.
For now, though, it’s looking like this is going to be one long winter.