Canadians should brace for further ballooning of their grocery bills next year, as the most recent edition of Canada's Food Price Report predicts another 5-7% price jump.
A family of four can expect to pay $16,222.80 next year for groceries -- an increase of $1,065.60 from 2022 prices -- according to the report. A single woman between the ages of 31 and 50 should expect to pay $3,740.39, while a man of the same age is expected to have an annual grocery bill of $4,168,80.
"We were hoping to have better news for Canadians, given the difficulties experienced in 2022, but our models tell us a different story," the report reads.
It goes on to note that these numbers are based on a very conservative 5% assumed food waste, but because of supply chain interruptions and the introduction of "shelflation" -- when grocery stores reduce the price of a product to get it off the shelf faster, but it may not last as long once you get it home -- food waste is likely to be higher, meaning more money will be spent on groceries. These numbers also only reflect food bought to prepare and eat at home and don't include restaurant prices, which are also expected to go up 4-6%.
"Food security will continue to be a concern for many in 2023 as the price of food is expected to increase," the report reads. "There were nearly 1.5M visits to food banks in 2022, marking the highest March use in history, and an increase in use of 35% from 2020 and 15% from 2021."
The report also notes that its 2022 prediction of a 7% increase in food prices "was considered by many to be alarmist, yet here we are with a food inflation rate above 10%."
In 2023, vegetable prices are expected to jump the most, with an anticipated 6-8% increase, meanwhile fruits are projected to have the lowest increase of 3-5%. Bakery items, dairy, and meat are expected to rise 5-7%, and seafood is expected to go up 4-6%.
Multiple factors are at play when it comes to climbing food prices, including geopolitical conflicts, energy costs, climate change, trade deals, and remaining effects of COVID-19. And with the Canadian dollar having fallen to a two-year low in September, the report notes that further depreciation, which is likely, may make imports even more expensive.
The continued rise in food prices will undoubtedly hit Canadians hard after already facing steep increases this year. The report notes that 47% of Canadians have already purchased cheaper alternatives, brands, or items to adjust their spending in the face of inflation. Although the government has taken some steps to help, such as doubling the GST credit, it's not enough to combat skyrocketing prices.
"These measures cannot be assumed to be permanent and while they may relieve some of the financial stress around food security and affordability, Canadians will still need to be prepared to spend more in the coming year," the report reads.