Food Prices Moderating… Moderately

Canada’s Food Price Report 2019 was released recently, and the outlook for food price increases over the next 12 months is mixed. But, overall, the news is good. We’ll see less of an increase in food prices, on average, next year than we did this…

An Array of Foods - © US National Institutes of HealthThe official Canadian Food Basket will rise in price
by less in 2019 than it did in 2018…

Here’s a complete breakdown of the Report’s findings, prepared by a team led by Food economy experts from the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University:

Table 1: Food price forecasts for 2019 


Anticipated Increase 

Bakery 1% to 3%
Dairy 0% to 2%
Grocery 0% to 2%
Fruit 1% to 3%
Meat -3% to -1%
Restaurants 2% to 4%
Seafood -2% to 0%
Vegetables 4% to 6%
Total Food Categories Forecastxxxxxx
1.5% to 3.5% 

Alas, the Devil is in the details

When you look at each of the 9 categories of foodstuffs that the report examines, you find that Meat is predicted to decrease in price by as much as 3 percent. Even Seafood is expected to drop by as much as 2 percent. But fresh Produce is projected to increase as much as 6 percent.

And therein lies the rub…

We’ve reported in this space many times before that one of the most pressing needs in our Western culinary picture is cheaper Produce. Those who can’t afford fresh Fruits and Veggies usually default to cheaper processed foods that are high in  Salt, Sugar, Fat and Calories just to fill their families’ stomachs. And that leads to a whole laundry list of negative health issues – preventable conditions such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which cost our health care systems hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

On the plus side, it will cost significantly less to put Meat on the table in 2019. But I suspect a decrease of no more than 3 percent will not be enough to entice folks to purchase more Lean Ground Beef at the supermarket and fewer Burgers at their preferred Fast Food joint. This in spite of the projection that the cost of restaurant dining will increase as much as 4 percent in 2019. The convenience factor, and the addictive nature of Fast and Processed Food both present barriers to a change in habits on the Meat front among the less economically blessed.

My overall take…

I know that my household’s food purchasing and consumption habits did not change materially over this past year, even though food prices increased, overall, by about 4 percent. And I’m pretty confident that a 3.5 percent decrease, which will leave us still 0.5 percent behind in the game by this time next year, won’t change anything materially for anybody. Our federal government here in Canada has a phrase to describe the economic segment which I and my family occupy: ‘Those in the middle class and those who are working to be’. The prices of quality Proteins and fresh Produce are already so high that a percent or two decrease certainly won’t make any material change in our situation.

~ Maggie J.