As we prepare to head into the new year, a noted Canadian food expert says don’t expect to see savings in your wallets at the grocery stores soon.
“We were hoping for better news for 2023, but unfortunately the first half of 2023 will be challenging. We’re not out of the woods yet,” Sylvain Charlebois, a professor and the director of the Agri-Foods Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, recently told CityNews.
For a family of four, the total annual grocery bill is expected to be $16,288 — $1,065 more than it was this year, the 13th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report released Monday said.
“We are expecting the food inflation rate to remain higher than the general inflation rate for the first half,” Charlebois says.
He said consumers should expect food prices to increase five to seven per cent over the next year.
A single woman in her 40s — the average age in Canada — will pay about $3,740 for groceries next year while a single man the same age would pay $4,168, according to the report and Statistics Canada.
Charlebois said models are projecting higher prices could come from a weakened currency fuelled by higher interest rates in the United States as well as climate change- and energy-related issues.
He added the models aren’t accounting for an unexpected conflict such as what happened in Ukraine earlier in 2022. By the end of this year, he said prices generally increased more than 10 per cent over the year.
When it comes to products might see the greatest price increase, Charlebois said meat (beef in particular), dairy and vegetables.
As for what items might be immune from price hikes?
“There was no safe place at the grocery store this year at all, but we are expecting the centre of the store and the frozen aisle to be a little bit more friendly towards consumers on a tight budget really,” Charlebois said.
However, despite the projection, Charlebois said there could be relief in the latter part of 2023.
“Things will calm down, things will get better and we should end the year on a good note with prices being a little more under control.”
With files from Richard Southern and The Canadian Press