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Food prices are going up faster than our paycheques, prompting change in habits, survey finds

Happy Smiling Family Enjoying Meal At Outdoor Restaurant (iStock)

Many people in Canada say they plan to change their food shopping and consumption habits because of price increases

Survey finds people will be cutting back at restaurants, using coupons and flyers, visiting different grocery stores

With meat expected to see the biggest increase in price next year, many say they'll opt for more plant-based diets

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – From using flyers and coupons to making more meals at home, many Canadians plan to change their food shopping habits because prices continue to rise.

According to a new survey, we’re feeling the pressure. Most Canadians believe food prices are rising faster than our income.

“The main takeaway is a build on our food price report,” Eamonn McGuinty, a research associate at Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Management, explains.

Through the end of year survey, conducted as part of a partnership between Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab and the Angus Reid Institute, McGuinty says the research looked how Canadians intend to offset the impacts of food inflation, as well as how they plan to change the way they shop for and consume it, based on the price increases.

“The most obvious are, basically, cutting out eating at restaurants and food service options,” he explains. “So, basically, cutting out that category of paying a premium on top of a premium for food. When I say that, we already pay a premium at the retail side of things, so if you go to a restaurant, you’re paying a premium on the same.”

Other things people were doing to offset the increase in prices was they planned to use coupons and flyers, and planned to visit different retail outlets.

“Buying in bulk is another option, and the last two that we identified were eating more plant-based products and less meat, and using the freezer aisle as an option, because if you go frozen, often, you get a better bang-for-your-buck, and you get the same type of nutritional value for a lot of things like vegetables and greens that are more expensive when they’re fresh,” McGuinty adds.

This year’s Food Price Report estimates Canadian families will spend about two to four per cent more to feed themselves next year, totalling up to $487 more on groceries and at restaurants in 2020.

Higher prices in all eight categories it tracks are expected, with the biggest jump anticipated in meat, which is forecast to see an increase of about four to six per cent.

Related video: Report warns food prices about to jump

It’s no secret many people are hooked on convenience when it comes to shopping and consuming food. McGuinty says when it comes to balancing convenience and the premium that comes with it, it looks like people just got “hooked on it.”

“I think the retail/food preparation sector has caught on to the fact that we live busier and more hectic lifestyles. We’re also getting used to the fact that things are made and ready to eat. We’re cooking less, as a country, we’re cooking less. I think there’s a lot of people who know that.”

He says while price can dictate certain things, consumer behaviour and insights can dictate others.

“We could see a shift in less food readiness, less food preparation, from other sources, and you could have a rise or a resurgence, let’s call it, in cooking from home and buying groceries and buying certain things specifically for consumption at home. I think that’s kind of the way forward.”

Of course, McGuinty notes we’ll just have to wait and see what next year will hold.

The year-end review also found that many Canadians are looking to reduce their food waste.

“Buying smarter, also understanding that the shelf-life of products can be taken to the maximum,” McGuinty explains. “You’ve got to use your judgement in terms of what looks like it’s edible and what’s not, but food waste is a tricky one.”

He says the biggest chunk of food waste, not just in Canada, but globally, happens at the consumer or household level.

“That’s because consumers have discretion on what they want to eat and what they don’t want to eat.”

Read the full report:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://www.citynews1130.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/sites/9/2019/12/17/Dalhousie-End-Of-Year-Survey-2019-EN.pdf” title=”Dalhousie End-Of-Year Survey 2019 EN”]

-With files from Dean Recksiedler and Monika Gul