by Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ever wish there was a way to know how your grocery bill will look next year compared to this year? Well it turns out, there is. Four Canadian universities have been collaborating on an annual Food Price Report for over a decade, and this year’s report for the upcoming year tells a grim story. In 2022, overall food prices are expected to increase by an average of 5-7%. Food categories that sit on the high end of the price increase scale are dairy products and restaurant food. Categories that are expected not to increase in price, or to increase minimally, are meat and seafood. Other categories are predicted to have average price increases – these include bakery items, fruits, and vegetables. Some external factors that influence the cost of food include a high rate of inflation, labour market issues, transportation issues, and an increasing federal carbon tax.
Interestingly, expected grocery budgets vary by age and gender. On average, girls and women eat slightly less than boys and men, and, regardless of gender, people aged 14-18 generally consume the most food, with a gradual increase in the years leading up to this age group, and a gradual decrease for those older than 18. These factors can affect how much families feel the impact of the increase in food prices from year to year.
According to the report, food insecurity is a very real concern for many Canadians, especially in recent years, because wage and salary increases have not kept up with food price increases, on average. The report predicts that food insecurity will increase in 2022, with a heavier reliance on food banks, meaning that local food banks such as the Salvation Army and the House of Lazarus may see an increase in demand in the coming year. The House of Lazarus posts information about its food bank online, including its opening hours and items that are currently in need from donors. This information can be found at hol.community/foodbank. Also predicted is that there will be an increase in theft from grocery stores in 2022, as families struggle to buy food. This can have the unfortunate further consequence of increasing food prices even more, as grocery stores attempt to recover their losses. Anyone struggling with food insecurity is encouraged to reach out to a local food bank – help is always available for those who know where to find it.