The Government of Canada’s consumer price index released this year, verifies the produce insecurity that Canadians may face ahead.
The consumer price index (CPI) reveals that fresh vegetable prices rose from an 11 per-cent in Nov. to 13 per-cent in Dec.
The 2022 annual review shows an 8 per-cent increase for dairy, 10 per-cent increase for fresh fruit, an 8 per-cent increase for fresh vegetables, and a 9 per-cent increase for processed meat.
“Meat especially has gone up probably thirty or forty per-cent, I guess the end result is not enough money to put towards savings,” said Vanessa Gregory, Toronto resident.
The increase in 2022 was a forty-year high, which has been the largest increase in consumer price sectors since 1982.
“An individual lemon is over a dollar now so - but our prices change day-to-day based on supply chain availability and demand,” said Martin Bielski, the Produce Assistant Manager at Metro in Toronto.
Metro's produce section in Toronto is refilled but with limited produce. Image by Megan Rampersaud.
“Metro’s overall cost to purchase produce has went up this year,” he said.
Confirming supply chain disruptions in Canada, the annual CPI report also confirms that the availability of food was impacted by extreme weather and higher input costs.
Rino Strazzeri, Assistant Produce Buyer at Chiovitti Banana Company in Toronto, said that “January, February, and March are South America’s winter conditions, so this is the time of year supply gets short for bananas and usually if there is an increase in prices there is a shortage of fruit.”
As supply chain issues and demand impact prices, the concern about produce availability occurs from multiple factors within the (CPI).
Diane Dyson, the Vice President of research and advocacy at Daily Bread Food Bank in Toronto said that, “we’re also seeing some of the lowest unemployment rate in years as well and the number of people coming to food banks whose primary income source is employment has doubled just over the course of the past year.”
Metro's produce section in Toronto was sparce for bananas last year, now refilled with Dole bananas. Image by Megan Rampersaud.
Due to inflation in all sectors, grocery stores must cover their own costs however employees’ wages are still not sustainable enough based on this year’s findings.
“There are people who have to feed their kids who are not there to get jobs and we also talk to people who do have jobs and still, their employment wages mean they can’t earn enough to pay for the basics in life,” Dyson said.
“Looking at those annual numbers shows that this is not just a blip, it's a shift in the economy and this is complex because these industries all interlock,” she said.
A research article from Dalhousie University predicts Canada’s Food Price in 2023 will rise to 7 per-cent with an average family of four spending over sixteen-thousand dollars per-year on food.
This yearly increase is over one-thousand dollars from 2022.
“I think that this will push us to have a better discussion about what our social assistance rates are, minimum wages, our government programs,” Dyson said.
“We’ve just gone through elections so governments will be there for the next few years and they can begin to make those changes with our economy,” she said.
Edited by Kavya Venkateshwaran
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