I do the groceries for my household every week, and the final bill never fails to surprise me. Even though we’ve drastically cut down on our meat consumption, feeding a family of four these days ain’t cheap. And guess what? It’s about to get more expensive.
A recent report out of the University of Guelph and Dalhousie University is warning us that food prices are once again on the rise. The average Canadian family can expect to spend about $400 more for groceries in 2019.
Like to eat out? Then expect to pay approximately $150 more in restaurants, too.
Researchers are predicting a price jump of anywhere between 1.5% to 3.5%. So that means the average family of four, like mine, will spend $12,157 on food next year.
And it turns out that the fact that I rarely eat meat anymore doesn’t change or help the final total of my future grocery bills. Vegetables are going to be the most expensive of all food categories. The report suggests their prices will rise by up to 6%.
Being health-conscious is a real trend these days, and many of us are choosing to adopt flexitarian or vegetarian diets as a result. The point is, meat consumption is dropping, and people are opting for plant-based protein replacements instead. Our desire to be healthy is driving the prices of veggies up. We can’t win.
The other factor? A warming climate and the depletion of our land and other natural resources is putting food security at risk.
In this report by CTV News, the UN says ecosystems are being damaged and destroyed by industrialization, soil erosion, and the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. Lost crops and less agricultural output mean higher food prices.
Weather authorities are also calling for abnormal conditions around the world this year as El Nino visits once again, which in the past has had a massive impact on supply chains, thus driving food prices up.
The annual food prices report is even guessing which items in the produce aisle will cost us the most in the new year. Expect cauliflower and broccoli to remain expensive, and tomatoes and various lettuces will likely be joining them in the higher bracket.
Meat Prices Dropping
Meanwhile, over in the meat and seafood aisles, expect to see prices drop. Seems backward, doesn’t it? The report estimates the cost of meat will drop by up to 3%, while seafood prices will either remain the same or fall by up to 2%.
That’s quite a difference from what we’ve been seeing in those departments over the past several years. Butchers have been shocking us with their exorbitant prices since 2014.
CTV News says data from Statistics Canada showed 1kg of ground beef rose in price by 26% between 2013 and 2014. Before that, the usual annual increase was less than 3.5%.
It’s no wonder many of us are eating less meat! Between ridiculous prices and the flexitarian and vegetarian diets gaining steam, researchers say there’s now an oversupply of meat. Butchers will have no choice but to drop their prices in a bid to bring us back to their counters.
Beyond veggies and meat, the report is predicting modest price increases in the following categories:
- Bakery (1-3%)
- Dairy (0-2%)
- Fruit (1-3%)
- Canned goods (0-2%)
Now is the time to really start looking for a good farmer’s market in your area, or signing up for a program in which you can buy your produce directly from a farm and serve at your table.
Growing your own is also a fantastic idea. Last summer, I grew my fresh herbs, tomatoes, zucchinis, green beans, spinach, lettuce, and cucumbers. If I can do it, ANYONE can. I plan on doing the same and more next growing season.
Short on space? No problem. Even with just a small balcony in the city, you can succeed in growing some of your food.
It’s incredibly satisfying, and better yet, it’ll save you some dough at the grocery store.