Food prices see first drop in 16 years of 0.7 per cent

Sulaiman Akbari

BIZ/TECH REPORTER

A year ago, food prices in Canada were at record highs.

But now, some of those prices are slowly beginning to decline. According to Statistics Canada, food prices in October fell by 0.7 per cent, marking the first year-over-year drop since 2000.

Fruits, vegetables, and meat products are now more affordable, meaning low-income consumers don’t have to avoid

Second-year University of Guelph-Humber Justice Studies student Ekjot Sandhu, 19, said he and his family were very aware of rising food costs.

“I remember last year we avoided buying strawberries, cauliflower, lettuce, apples, and beef products because of the high prices,” Sandhu said. “We usually bought those foods before the prices went up.”

Canada was going through a crisis when it came to fruits and vegetables last winter. A head of cauliflower – earning the nickname ‘white gold’ – was going for $8, a head of lettuce was going for $5, and a pound of strawberries was going for $5.

Sandhu said he and his family never experienced food prices that high.

“It was weird because we often bought all those foods without having to look at the price tag,” he said.

The main reasons for the high costs were a low Canadian dollar and weather and climate issues.

The Canadian dollar was pegged at $0.69 U.S., a year ago, according to the Bank of Canada, in part because of the free-falling value of a barrel of oil. The Canadian dollar is now hovering around the $0.72 U.S. level.

At the same time, California was going through a severe drought, causing many of its crops to fail, and produce prices increased as demand stripped supply.

Sandhu and his family have gone back to buying their regular foods, but are now watching their bill.

Third-year Humber College business administration student Romar Mahabier, 28, said he shops at local open stalls.

“Whenever I need to do grocery shopping, I go to farmer markets,” Mahabier said. “Kensington Market is one of my go-to’s for grocery shopping.”

Mahabier enjoys the interaction he has in meeting the producers directly.

“I value the relationship I have with the employees and owners because I am not there (only) to shop but I am also there to talk about their well-doing, their business, and other things,” he said.

Mahabier said he wasn’t affected as much by last year’s food prices spike because the markets offer a bargain that other grocery stores don’t do.

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