Food prices surge as vegetable costs spike 18.2%: Statscan

Click to play video: 'Produce prices powering up inflation' Produce prices powering up inflation
WATCH: The skyrocketing price of fruits and vegetables is driving up Canda's inflation rate. Kylie Stanton looks at when you might see some relief at the cash register – Feb 19, 2016

The price of fresh vegetables surged in January, Statistics Canada said Friday, helping to lift the overall inflation rate to 2.0 per cent.

The cost of food registered another strong jump last month, the federal statistical agency said, with supermarket prices climbing 4.6 per cent.

The rise was stoked by soaring fresh produce costs, which were up 18.2 per cent in January compared to the same month a year ago. Fruit was up 12.9 per cent.

While rising prices can be expected for items out of season during the winter months, the spike is primarily a reflection of the higher costs on imported food stemming from the loonie’s plunge. Much of the hit taken by supermarkets and wholesalers is being passed through to the consumer.

“This report has the weaker dollar’s fingerprints all over it,” BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes said.

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MORE: Forget cauliflower, celery leads pack of runaway produce prices

Statscan also said gas prices were higher last month compared to January 2015.

Combined with higher food prices, the levelling off of gas price declines helped push the inflation rate to 2.0 per cent in the month, or a tenth of a percentage point higher than expected.

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