Food is one of the basic necessities of life. We all need to eat to survive, but sometimes when food is really expensive that can be hard to do. Food banks and local community dinners across the country are in place to help feed people in need. But, soon, even more Canadians will feel the strain at the grocery store.
Sobeys, one of the nation's biggest grocery stores, is warning Canadians that price increases on food are right around the corner and a few things are to blame.
According to Empire Co., the company that owns Sobeys, while they have been putting off price increases for a while, inflation is inevitable. The company says that there are two main factors driving up the prices right now, the first is the US tariffs.
Donald Trump introduced tariffs on some Canadian goods earlier this year following the G7 summit. In July, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired back with tariffs of his own on a number of American goods, including food items like yogurt, coffee, maple syrup, and fruits and vegetables.
While Canada as a whole has faired pretty well, bringing in $300 million from the tariffs, Sobeys is now warning that they are going to have to increase some prices because of the inflated cost to get items to the Canadian stores, though they haven't said by how much.
They aren't the only ones raising prices either. Loblaws and Metro have both predicted that price hikes are coming soon. But, the tariffs aren't the only thing driving up your grocery bill. Another major factor is increased minimum wage.
Without a doubt, Ontario's minimum wage increase to $14/hour this past January has been one of the most debated and largest wage hikes in the country. But, despite all the chatter in Ontario, every single province and territory in Canada raised their minimum wage in the last year.
Increases all over the country mean companies have to pay their employees everywhere even more than they used to and there are more increases to come. Saskatchewan and Manitoba will both be raising their minimum wage slightly, but in Alberta and BC there are going to be huge increases.
On October 1, the minimum wage in Alberta will rise to $15/hour, making it the highest in Canada. BC is gradually increasing it's minimum wage over the next few years to have it at $15.20/hour by June 2021.
While these two factors are going to drive food prices even higher, even before Trump's tariffs were announced, an increase in food prices was expected across the country.
Every December, Dalhousie and Guelph Universities release a food price forecast for the upcoming year. They predicted that in 2018 the prices of food would overall rise by 1-3%. The report broke it down even further, estimating which products would have the biggest increase and even which provinces would be hit the hardest.
According to their research, they predicted that restaurant prices and fruits and vegetables would have the biggest increases, with prices rising anywhere from 4-6%. Some categories that are expected have lower increases are dairy, seafood, and meat.
As for which provinces are going to experience the worst price increases, all the Atlantic provinces and BC were forecasted to have above average increases, meaning more than 1-3%. Ontario and Alberta were slated to have increases lower than the Canadian average.
This report didn't take into account the tariffs between Canada and the US since no one expected them. But, it does look at other factors that drive up food prices like the climate, supply and processing costs, and general inflation. It also looks at other unique factors like growing trends in the food industry and online retailers like Amazon getting into the food market.
Keeping in mind that this report projected food price increases regardless of Trump's tariffs, that now means that, with the increases that Canadian grocery stores are also predicting, your grocery bill is about to get a lot higher.