May 2, 2019 6:00 am

Manitobans paying more for fruits and vegetables at the grocery store

The price of groceries in Manitoba, fresh vegetables in particular, are on the rise, and there's no sign of it slowing down this year.

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The price of groceries in Manitoba, fresh vegetables in particular, are on the rise, and there’s no sign of it going down this year.

Between March 2016 and March 2019 the food index increased 3.1 per cent in Manitoba, while the fresh vegetables index went up 18.5 per cent.

For people like Robbie Grant, single and making a little more than minimum wage, paying a premium for her veggie-based diet is a challenge.

“There are vegetables I love that I will not buy unless it’s on sale,” Grant said from her Winnipeg home.

Robbie Grant has been eating a veggie-based diet for eight years.

Joe Scarpelli/Global News

While she can’t afford to pay full price for greens, she also can’t afford to cut them out of her diet as she is sensitive to gluten and red meat.

Grant started the diet eight years ago, when she recalls spending about $60 a week at the grocery store.

“Now, for the same thing I’m looking at $120 to $130 for the exact same thing.”

READ MORE: Here’s how much more Canadians will likely spend on groceries in 2019

Grocery prices are estimated to remain high in 2019.

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According to a report released late last year by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph, the average Canadian family is going to spend $411 more on groceries.

The biggest reason, report co-author Simon Somogyi said, is because of weather events that slowed down production over the winter and food safety scares.

“We’ve seen romaine lettuce and other leafy green vegetables having contamination issues,” Somogyi said. “That’s means products have been taken from the market, supply decreases, demand stays pretty much the same and consequently the price for those rises as well.”

“For the last 12 months we’ve seen an increase of about 20 per cent in the price of lettuce across Canada mainly due to those food safety issues.”

Another factor contributing to the price of food has to do with what’s popular. For example, the celery juice diet trending on social media.

“Things like celery,” he explained. “Demand increases, supply still isn’t great, so we see those prices increase.”

At Dakota Family Foods celery is going for $4.99 a stalk.

“The wholesale cost has probably tripled since the new year,” produce manager Jeff Parker said.

READ MORE: Here’s how a family of 4 could save $3K in groceries every year

Home economist Getty Stewart says it’s concerning

Joe Scarpelli/Global News

Economist Getty Stewart urges consumers to do their best to eat healthy, despite the costs.

“Don’t ditch fruits and veg.”

“Adjust your budget accordingly and plan for fruits and vegetables,” Stewart said.

Her number one tip to get the best deal is to pay attention to what’s in season, which will result in cheaper prices.

“Your best option as a cook and preparing food for your family is follow the fruits and veg that are in season.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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