Nearly a quarter of Canadians worry about being able to pay for groceries: poll

Click to play video: 'High food prices leading to unhealthy eating'
High food prices leading to unhealthy eating
WATCH ABOVE: The soaring cost of food has more people making cheaper, but unhealthier choices. Tanya Beja has suggestions to make ends meet while keeping nutrition in mind – Apr 4, 2016

TORONTO – A new study suggests nearly one-quarter of Canadians are worried about how to pay for groceries, with more than 50 per cent shifting their shopping habits amid fluctuating food prices.

The findings were called surprising by lead researcher Sylvain Charlebois, dean of the faculty of management at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The analysis surveyed more than 1,000 adults in Canada online between Oct. 8 and Oct. 31 to determine if price swings prompted shoppers to rethink how they choose pantry staples.

Charlebois said it’s significant that 24.3 per cent of the respondents were concerned about food security for their families.

READ MORE: Tips to save money as food prices rise

Notably, lower-earning, less-educated women were likely to worry more over the past year, the survey found. Households with dependants were also more likely to feel less food secure than a year ago.

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“Vulnerability will have an impact on behaviour,” said Charlebois.

He said it’s been a unique year for food prices, in which food inflation rates started above normal before entering into a period of deflation. In September, for example, the fresh vegetable index – a selection of produce that Statistics Canada tracks the price of monthly – was down year-over-year for the first time since January 2013.

VIDEO: If you like eating fresh fruit and vegetables, your grocery bill is on the rise. Emily Mertz breaks down some new data released by Statistics Canada.

Click to play video: 'Canadian food prices surging'
Canadian food prices surging

Charlebois, who is currently working on the annual food price report in conjunction with the University of Guelph’s Food Institute, said meat and produce have seen large shifts in price, while dairy has seen more fluctuation than usual as well.

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READ MORE: As prices climb, low-income families struggle to buy healthy foods

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His survey found that more than 53 per cent of respondents said they had changed the way they shopped for groceries over the past 12 months because of fluctuations in the price of food.

More than half of respondents also said they’ve looked for deals on groceries (59.5 per cent), stocked up on sale items (56.9 per cent) and planned their purchases before going into the store (50.9 per cent) as a result of increasing food prices. About 41 per cent said they were finding alternatives to foods they would typically buy that were suddenly too expensive.

A different survey Charlebois and other researchers conducted earlier this year found some Canadians were substituting frozen produce and juice for expensive fruit and vegetables.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

VIDEO: An issue for many Canadians is the rising price of food, something the Bank of Canada said is due to both “weather factors” as well as overall inflation.

Click to play video: 'Bank of Canada talks rising food prices'
Bank of Canada talks rising food prices

Watch below: Shoppers have been coping with fluctuating food prices for the past year. A new survey suggests consumers are now fighting back with their wallets. Julia Wong explains.

Click to play video: 'Growing grocery prices have consumers grappling with how to pay'
Growing grocery prices have consumers grappling with how to pay

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