Canadian wallets take a hit as food prices climb

Data Interpreter: Economist Dr. Richard Barichello discussed his involvement with Canada’s Food Price Report and what Canadians can expect in 2022 over a Zoom call on Friday, Jan. 14, 2022. (Emily Meyer/The Press)

Canadians should expect to see record high food prices this year, with Canada’s Food Price Report estimating an increase of five to seven per cent over 2021.

“We are having trouble keeping up with what we actually need because what we actually need is super expensive now,” said Sheza Ashraf, a second-year business administration student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT).

As one of the oldest children in her family of seven, Ashraf is partially responsible for helping pay for groceries. She said that her family sticks to a budget each month, but with food prices increasing dramatically over the past two years, she has noticed her family’s budget does not go as far.

“You could usually get quite a few bags of groceries for $100, but now it’s like you can only get one or two,” said Ashraf.

According to Canada’s Food Price Report, the average grocery bill has risen by 70 per cent between 2000 and 2020.

The report also suggests that Alberta will be one of the hardest-hit provinces this year, with dairy and restaurant prices seeing the steepest hike.

Richard Barichello, economist and data interpreter for Canada’s Food Price Report, reminds Canadians that the numbers are only an estimate based on fluctuating factors.

“I am abundantly aware of all the difficulties and how inexact the science is,” said Barrichello, explaining that world supply chains and unexpected events can impact food prices in ways that are unpredictable.

Although Barichello suggests that the actual numbers may differ, he is confident Canadians will pay more for their groceries this year, leaving more vulnerable Canadians in a difficult position.

The Calgary Food Bank has already seen the impact of rising food prices and a lagging economy due to COVID-19. The centre saw approximately 1,100 people a day in December 2021, double that of the previous December.

“The government supports did alleviate some of the need, but as soon as those supports dried up, the numbers crept up again,” said BettyJo Kaiser, communication coordinator at the Calgary Food Bank.

With the increased need for support comes an increased need for donations.

With the rising food prices and supply chain issues, Kaiser and her team expect to see the biggest hit in donations from their retailers and suppliers, from which they receive overstock.

Kaiser added that they could see fewer donations at the till as Calgarians readjust their budgets to support the lagging economy; however, she isn’t worried about the support from the community.

“No matter what happens in rough times, Calgarians step up,” said Kaiser.

“We are very fortunate. There are so many generous people.”

You could usually get quite a few bags of groceries for $100, but now it’s like you can only get one or two. – Sheza Ashraf.

With the rising food prices, Calgarians may be wondering how they can continue to support organizations like the Calgary Food Bank. Monetary donations to the food bank go a long way, with one dollar donated equalling five dollars’ worth of food.

However, monetary or food donations are not the only way to help.

“Maybe your family can’t do an increase in donations this year, but you have a little more time on your hands. Consider volunteering with us,” Kaiser said, adding that volunteers are a huge part of what makes the food bank operational.

About Emily Meyer 3 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Emily Meyer is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021-22 academic year.