In 2024, grocery will cost $700 more

TORONTO – Although the price run of some essential goods will slow down, the typical Canadian family’s overall grocery bill is expected to increase by about $700 next year, according to the annual food industry report, the 14th edition published from Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan. 

Last year, when inflation was just starting to rear its head, the report predicted that food prices would rise between 5 and 7 percent in 2023. It turned out that this was a remarkably accurate figure, as Statistics Canada data shows the food component of the consumer price index increased 5.9% over the past 12 months.

Each year, the report calculates what the cost of an annual “basket” of groceries would be for a family of four: an adult man and woman, a teenage boy and a pre-teen girl. Last year, lead researcher Sylvain Charlebois and his team predicted that a typical household would end up paying $1,065 more for food in 2023, bringing the household’s annual total to $16,288.40. Considering the increase in food prices, the prediction turned out to be more or less accurate. But while the report correctly predicted the rising cost of food, it was incorrect in terms of what ended up in the shopping basket, especially as consumers ate less or chose cheaper alternatives in order to make ends meet at home. So it turns out, this year, that typical family ended up spending $15,595.40 on food, even though the price of individual items in the shopping cart increased. “In other words, households spent $693 less in one year due to changes in purchasing habits, despite rising food prices” the report highlights.

Time will tell whether the same impulse “to cut” will occur next year. For families who don’t simply choose to eat less, this year’s report is worth watching for its findings. And on this front the news seems quite comforting. “2024 will be a much more favorable year for consumers,” Charlebois told CBC. “We expect prices to increase, but more modestly through 2024”.

Charlebois says staples like produce, meat and baked goods will still rise, but there could be some good prices among packaged goods made by multinational conglomerates like Nestlé, Tyson Foods, PepsiCo, Hershey, Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg and others, because the cost structure for dry, non-perishable consumer packaged goods companies is much more stable right now, and that should help consumers who will be browsing the shelves for deals: and the odds of finding a deal on a can of beans or a bag of pasta will be much greater than finding one in the produce section or the meat section.

Meat prices are expected to rise between 5 and 7 percent next year, and you won’t find relief by loading up on vegetables. “When it comes to produce, especially greens, we expect a weaker dollar which will make imports more expensive” Charlebois said. Dairy products and fruit will also increase, but only between 1 and 3 percent, while seafood is expected to be between 3 and 5 percent more expensive. After increasing 8% last year, baked goods are on track to increase between 5% and 7% in 2024.

Overall, overall food costs are expected to increase between 2.5 and 4.5 percent, with the grocery bill for a typical family of four rising by about $700 to just under $16,300 a year. Still, a drain.

Photo by Viki Mohamad on Unsplash