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Canadians care more about food price than taste: poll

WATCH ABOVE: Canadians are choosing price over freshness and taste at the grocery store. Ipsos’ Sean Simpson explains. 

It would be natural to assume that most Canadians are thinking about taste when deciding what food to buy. However, a new poll shows that taste is a distant third to how much the food costs and how fresh it is when deciding what products to purchase at the grocery store.

The exclusive Ipsos poll for Global News showed that 27 per cent said price was the most important factor when deciding what food products to buy, with another 32 per cent listing price as the second most important thing.

READ MORE: Beef leads the jump in food prices across Canada

Meanwhile, 32 per cent of respondents said freshness is the most important factor; another 19 per cent listed freshness as the second more important thing. Taste was the most important factor for 16 per cent of those polled, and the second more important thing for another 16 per cent.

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The poll results point to a stark reality for Canadian households — food prices continue to rise, forcing many to stretch their dollar at the grocery check-out.

READ MORE: Going hungry – Almost one in 10 Torontonians can’t afford healthy food

“That price is a more important factor than freshness or taste for many Canadians brings us back to the affordability of a full grocery cart,” said Sean Simpson, vice president at Ipsos Reid Public Affairs.

In an ideal world, we’d eat fresh food that tastes good, said Simpson. “But for many, the practicality of price trumps these other factors. As wallets are squeezed by the rising cost of living, food prices included, Canadians are letting their wallets do the shopping, not their eyes or their stomachs,” he said.

There are certain things that Canadians are willing to shell out more for, the poll shows.

A rising majority (71 per cent) said they’d be willing to pay more for food that is locally-grown or produced, up from 69 per cent in 2010.

READ MORE: Local growers get top marks for food quality and safety, new poll finds

Fewer people are willing to pay more for products that make health claims, at 42 per cent, down from 44 per cent in 2011.

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With large discount retailers getting into the business of selling fresh food (in a big way), you’d think the increased competition would drive food prices down across the board. However, nearly half (47 per cent) of those polled said they’ve seen their grocery bills increase. Forty-five per cent saw no difference to their bills, eight per cent said theirs has gone down.

“Increased competition is supposed to mean lower prices – this is a fundamental tenet of capitalism,” said Simpson. “But nearly half of Canadians say that prices are actually going up, not down.”

“Food prices are obviously impacted by more than just how many supermarkets are open in a neighbourhood. Commodity prices, transportation costs, currency exchange rates and other variables can all have an impact on food prices, and these are surely factors which are contributing to higher grocery bills for Canadians,” he said.

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.”

The poll was conducted between May 22 and 27, 2015, using a sample of 1,005 Canadians. It is accurate to within +/ – 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would be had all Canadian adults been polled. 

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