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Grocery bill looking higher than usual? These are the 12 foods that have seen the biggest price hikes


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Grocery bill looking higher than usual? These are the 12 foods that have seen the biggest price hikes

The inflation rate is near zero, but it sure doesn’t feel that wayAuthor of the article:Special to Financial PostPublishing date:Sep 29, 2020  •   •  3 minute readStewing beef, oranges, bacon and carrots are among groceries that saw big price increases. Photo by Postmedia/Getty ImagesArticle contentBy Jonathan BradleyThe official inflation rate is near zero, but it…

The inflation rate is near zero, but it sure doesn’t feel that way

Author of the article:

Special to Financial Post

Publishing date:

Sep 29, 2020  •   •  3 minute read

Stewing beef, oranges, bacon and carrots are among groceries that saw big price increases. Photo by Postmedia/Getty Images

Article content

By Jonathan Bradley

The official inflation rate is near zero, but it doesn’t feel that way to many people, particularly when they go to the grocery store to stock up on some of their favourite items.

Certain food products have seen huge price increases this year, according to Statistics Canada’s latest data, and they can be found in all aisles of the grocery store.

Here are the 12 food products with the largest price jumps, and the reasons behind some of those increases.

Carrots are not as fashionable as they used to be. Photo by Postmedia

1. Carrots (33 per cent) 

Sylvain Charlebois, director at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said the price of carrots has risen because of this year’s lower harvest.

“Farmers will grow produce based on how much they can make,” he said. “Supplies were much lower this year than in past years.”

Charlebois said carrots are not as fashionable as they used to be and are not viewed as important, so grocery stores do not carry the same volume as some other produce.

“Carrots are barely in the top 10 of most popular vegetables, so they’re not as critical as cucumbers, tomatoes or onions,” he said.

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Canned tomatoes are up 13 per cent and onions are up 14 per cent. Photo by Postmedia

2. Onions (14 per cent)

3. Canned tomatoes (13 per cent)

Charlebois said the aluminum tariffs United States President Donald Trump was going to enact played a slight role in the price of canned tomatoes increasing, but COVID-19 is the main reason.

“Typically, canned goods are sold as loss leaders,” he said, referring to products sold below cost to attract customers into a store.

He said there are fewer loss leaders since COVID-19 started, which is why canned goods in general have become more expensive.

“COVID has eliminated most of the discounting at the centre of the store,” he said, referring to the area where most packaged foods are found.

4. Potatoes (12 per cent)

Charlebois said he expected the price of potatoes to go down, because farmers had an oversupply of them.

“When it comes to demand elasticity, often in food, retailers are very afraid of reducing prices even though their own prices have dropped,” he said. “To increase prices again is very difficult, especially for a staple like potatoes.”

He said people will buy a 10-pound bag of potatoes at $6, and will walk away when grocery stores start pricing that bag at $9.

“They try not to play around too much with prices,” he said.

Prices for processed cheese are up 11%. Photo by Getty Images

5. Processed cheese (11 per cent) 

Charlebois said dairy is an interesting field to assess, because Canada’s supply management system should stabilize prices.

“A bunch of things could have played out,” he said. “Labour costs, new protocols and less competition, maybe.”

He said the prices of processed food should fluctuate more, because these products are further away from farm gate prices. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement changed the supply management system, but it had the opposite effect of what was intended.

“We were expecting prices to soften a little, not increase,” he said.

Orange prices are up 9.6 per cent and stewing beef, 8.2 per cent. Photo by Postmedia

6. Oranges (9.6 per cent)

7. Stewing beef  (8.2 per cent)  

Charlebois said beef has been problematic all year.

“Ranchers actually did make some good money at the end of 2019,” he said. “As the beef went through the supply chain, wholesalers charged more and it caught up to us as COVID started.”

He said beef prices experience a fluctuation every five to six years. Beef prices are cyclical, and a price increase was overdue.

“Beef prices were up 26 per cent from January to May, but things have calmed down now,” he said.

Bacon prices are up 5.7 per cent, flour is up 5.6 per cent, apples are up 6.5 per cent, canned soup, 6.1 per cent and macaroni, 8 per cent. Photo by Getty Images/Bloomberg

8. Macaroni (8 per cent) 

9. Apples (6.5 per cent)

10. Canned soup (6.1 per cent) 

11. Bacon (5.7 per cent)

12. Flour (5.6 per cent)  

Charlebois said he expected flour to go up in price more because of the high demand for it.

“Flour, I believe, is 39 per cent higher than it was in 2000,” he said. “This year, we saw a bit of a bump, but flour has always been a non-story for the longest time.”

He said there has been higher demand for flour because more people are eating at home and taking up cooking and baking as hobbies.

“This year, all of the things you need to cook became in fashion,” he said.

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