B.C. food prices set to rise in 2017

Global News

The average Canadian family may have to spend as much as $420 more on groceries next year as food prices are expected to climb.

Sylvain Charlebois with the Canada Food Price Report says, “We are expecting food prices to be up anywhere between three and five percent over the next 12 months.”

Protein, meat, fish and seafood prices are projected to rise by four to six percent in the new year. The same goes for vegetables. Fruits and nuts aren’t far behind, with possible increases of three to five percent.

The lowest jump may be in the diary aisle, with eggs, bakery items and cereals at only two percent.

But there are ways to save.

Victoria’s Niagara Grocery manager Seamus McKeating suggests buying local. While prices on local produce are expected to go up as well, purchasing in bulk can save five to 10 percent.

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McKeating says, “So, right away our weekly box program saves you more than the price that’s going up. Versus just buying several times a week, you can buy a week’s worth of veggies in a box and save money that way.”

But what’s behind this trend? The report’s author suggests the falling Canadian dollar and unpredictable weather patterns are partly to blame, and then there’s the Trump effect.

The president elect’s administration could enact protectionist policies when it comes to agriculture, trade and immigration.

“There are over two million illegal workers working in agriculture in America, so if you actually get rid of all of these people, that will impact agriculture in America immensely,” Charlebois said.

Ontario and British Columbia are the most likely to see above average food price increases. In Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and Alberta, food prices are expected to go up, but not by a lot.  Those who might see the least difference include Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories.

Ultimately, these are only projections – things can change. But don’t put all of your eggs in that basket; the Food Price Reports have been accurate five of the past six years.