Just because there's a pandemic doesn't mean food is going to cost less. The spread of COVID-19 in Canada will not have an effect on rising food prices. If anything, it might just drive them higher in the future.

Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph released a revised version of their food price report for 2020 to reflect the current situation.

The previous forecast, released in December 2019, projected that food prices would increase by about two to four percent overall, with meat experiencing the highest trend upward.

In their revised report, the two universities predict that most of these increases will remain unchanged. However, vegetables and bakery items will see a slight increase during this time.

While the increase in food prices will not alter too drastically for 2020, the authors of the report speculate that current safety measures and pay increases will be made permanent, affecting food costs in the future.

Companies including Loblaws and Sobeys have promised to pay their workers higher hourly wages during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Most employers have committed to increasing salaries until early May, but that could be extended depending on how recruitment becomes a challenge amid the outbreak and beyond," the report states, "This will certainly increase operational costs."

Other factors that are going to affect the price of food include the ongoing oil price war, the decline in the Canadian dollar, and increased demand for online food delivery.

The report also notes that promotional sales have been reduced across the food retail sector.

It also says that instances of price-gouging are "highly unlikely," and that most products or alternatives can be found for regular prices at other locations.

One area where Canadians may see prices drop is in the restaurant industry.

"We are expecting food service to get into a bit of an aggressive campaign to regain market share," Sylvain Charlebois, Scientific Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab and one of the report's authors, told the Toronto Star, "And so we are expecting prices to drop significantly."

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