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Opinion: Burnaby shopper eating expired food because can’t afford ‘sticker shock’ prices

Rents and food prices continue to go up

I know that some people scoff at expiry dates that are listed on certain food items.

I have friends and family who say they are just a “guide” and you shouldn’t worry about them.

But Clair in Burnaby does worry about food being expired, especially when it comes to feeding her two young children.

And yet, the local single mom is having to sweat the idea of feeding her children expired food due to skyrocketing food prices – and rents - that have her straining to afford groceries.

“I’ve had to put aside anything that I don’t deem ‘essential’ and that includes some items that are really actually pretty necessary like medication for myself and toothpaste,” Clair told me. “But food, for me, comes first when it comes to taking care of my kids. I go looking for bargains everywhere and sometimes that means buying discounted food that has clearly expired. It’s humiliating, but I get sticker shock when I go to the grocery store. Prices just keep rising and I have to make these choices that make me feel terrible just to keep my kids from going hungry. I don’t want to use the food bank because I don’t want to take away from others who are in a worse situation.”

This is far from the only local resident I’ve spoken to recently who is having trouble buying groceries. I’ve interviewed several local seniors who are struggling as well because they are on a fixed income.

"I've had to basically give up on fresh fruit and vegetables," one senior told me when I was interviewing people about the upcoming closure of the Greystone Village SuperValu. "They are just too pricey for me to eat every day."

The rental situation in Burnaby doesn’t help much., a rental platform based in Vancouver, creates monthly rent reports for the region and finds that Metro Vancouver has seen a significant increase in prices.

According to this report, the average one-bedroom rental in Burnaby is a whopping $1,841, a figure likely to rise as the freeze on rents has now been lifted by the B.C. government.

Don’t expect food prices to drop anytime soon. If anything, they are going to go up.

Supply chain glitches worldwide are causing product shortages, and price hikes for food and consumer goods. Weather events caused by climate change are a big part of this.

Food consumes about 16.4% of the average household budget, according to Statistics Canada data for 2019.

Canada’s Food Price Report 2022, produced by the University of British Columbia (UBC) and three other Canadian universities, projects that Canadian food prices will increase an average of between 5 per cent and 7 per cent this year. That is the highest predicted increase in the 12 years that university researchers have produced the annual report.

Meanwhile, wages remain stagnant for many people in certain sectors.

So, yeah, don’t expect things to get better anytime soon when it comes to a visit to the grocery store.

- With additional reporting by Glen Korstrom, Business in Vancouver

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.