More Burnaby residents are speaking out about how inflation is making the act of buying groceries a sad and depressing experience.
Food prices in Canada are soaring as higher input costs, shipping fees and wages push the food inflation rate to 6.5 per cent — the biggest year-over-year jump in grocery bills in more than a decade.
Statistics Canada said Wednesday the increase in food prices in January outpaced the overall annual inflation rate of 5.1 per cent.
Meat, bread and fruit were just some of the food items pushing up the cost of groceries, the agency said.
“I’ve been reading the NOW’s stories about ‘sticker shock’ from going to the grocery store and I can confirm that I definitely had sticker shock looking at outrageous meat prices,” said Terri, a Burnaby shopper who does the grocery buying for her, her husband and their three young children. “We’re a one-income family because I stay home due to the high cost of child care. I’m used to stretching out the food budget but this is ridiculous. I’m having to cut back on some pretty essential items just to get enough food to feed the family.”
A Burnaby senior name Mary told the NOW during a visit to a Kensington Plaza store that her fixed income means that the money available to buy food has shrunk dramatically.
“I’m starting to skip the odd meal in order to stretch things out,” she said. “I don’t have anywhere else to cut costs. I don’t drive anymore because I couldn’t’ afford that. Someone needs to do something.”
Higher food prices reflect a raft of issues, including the rising cost of goods, labour shortages and supply chain disruptions, experts say.
"It's layer upon layer of issues that are compounding to create these skyrocketing prices," said Simon Somogyi, University of Guelph professor and Arrell Chair in the Business of Food.
"The cost of everything across the food supply chain is getting so expensive and that's the same for farms, wholesalers, packers and processors right up to retailers. All these things are coming together on top of other issues like winter storms and shipping delays and the result is higher prices."
Canadians paid 7.4 per cent more for bakery products in January compared with a year ago, an extra 16.5 per cent for margarine and 12.1 per cent more for condiments, spices and vinegars, Statistics Canada said.
Supply chain disruptions and unfavourable growing conditions also pushed fresh fruit prices up 8.2 per cent, the agency said.
Meanwhile, the price of beef jumped a whopping 13 per cent while chicken was up nine per cent and fish increased 7.9 per cent.
"We're starting to see commodity price increases ripple through to the grocery store," said Stuart Smyth, associate professor and research chair in Agri-Food Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan.
"We'll see those higher beef prices continually for the next several months."
- With additional reporting by the Canadian Press