Grocery prices to keep soaring in 2022

The average grocery bill for a Canadian family is set to rise by nearly $1,000 in 2022. Canada's "food professor" reveals which items will cost more, and where some savings could be found.

By Mike Visser and Richard Southern

Canadian grocery bills have been growing steadily throughout the past year, and experts say that won’t change in 2022. In fact, a typical family could be stuck spending nearly $1,000 more just to put food on the table.

“The average family of four, we’re expecting the food bill to go up by as much as $966,” said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Sr. Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.

“It’s going to be tight for a lot of families, unfortunately.”

We’ll be paying more in most aisles of the grocery store, but Charlebois says the dairy and vegetables sections will see some of the steepest increases.

The expected rise in milk and dairy prices will come in large part due to the Canadian Dairy Commission, which has recommended an increase of 8.4 per cent in the price dairy farmers receive for their milk.

The cost of vegetables hinges on several factors, including some potentially troubling weather forecasts.

“We expect not-so-great weather in the Northern Hemisphere once again. In 2021, we saw droughts, floods in Europe, and so that really didn’t help harvest,” said Charlebois. “We are expecting a kind of the same year.”

Canadians got accustomed to soaring meat prices in 2021, with costs rising by nearly 10 per cent year-over-year. But Charlebois says it would be highly usual to see a similar increase in the new year. Instead, he’s predicting more modest increases in the months ahead.

“It’s very rare that meat prices go up significantly two years in a row. It’s a very cyclical section of the grocery store. It can’t happen two years in a row, so we are expecting a more peaceful year in 2022 at the meat counter.”

If you’re looking to dine out instead, you should also expect to fork out more cash as restaurant owners face larger bills of their own.

“If you talk to any restaurant operator, they’ll tell you everything they’re buying is costing more,” said Charlebois.

“We do believe that a lot of restaurant operators have not increased prices as much as they should to protect their own margins, so we’re going to see a lot of that happening in 2022.”

For those looking to save a little money, Charlebois suggests taking advantage of so-called “enjoy tonight” deals on food items that are about to expire and would otherwise end up being discarded.

“Grocers want to empower consumers to become food rescuers more so than ever before.”

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