24% of Canadians are buying less food as inflation rises: Sylvain Charlebois
The majority of Canadians are changing the way they shop for groceries as food prices continue to climb at the fastest pace since 1981, according to a report and survey by Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab released Tuesday.
The survey, which was done in partnership with Caddle, found the top ways Canadians are making lifestyle changes to help with grocery shopping include using loyalty programs (33.7 per cent), reading weekly flyers (32.1 per cent) and using more coupons (23.9 per cent.)
Only 28.2 per cent of respondents said they have not made any changes to help save money at the grocery store.
THE 'DARK SIDE' OF FOOD INFLATION
Almost a quarter of Canadians (24 per cent) are cutting back how much food they buy because of higher inflation.
This is more prevalent among female shoppers, with 29.6 per cent buying less food, in comparison to 18 per cent of men.
Some individuals are even skipping meals (7.1 per cent) or paying for their food bills with credit cards (6.6 per cent) without knowing when they can pay if off.
Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, said this is the “dark side of food inflation.
“You can see that a lot of people out there are struggling with higher prices,” Charlebois said in an interview on Tuesday.
“Of course, we know what's going on with interest rates. Interest rates are actually making the costs to shelter ourselves much higher, and that's putting a lot of pressure on our food budgets as well.”
The survey found many Canadians are taking the issue of higher grocery prices into their own hands, with 15.5 per cent of individuals reporting they have started growing their own food in the last year.
Ontario had the highest percentage of residents start to grow their own food (17.4 per cent), followed by British Columbia (16.2 per cent) and Atlantic Canada (15.2 per cent.)
Some individuals are even raising their own livestock at home (4.5 per cent), which they didn’t do a year ago.
FOOD PRICES CONTINUE TO SURGE
On Tuesday, Statistics Canada reported grocery store prices for food rose at its fastest pace since August 1981.
The cost of food climbed 10.8 per cent compared to a year ago.
Condiments, spices and vinegars were the products that increased the most last month by 17.2 per cent, followed by bakery products (15.4 per cent) and non-alcoholic beverages (14.1 per cent.)
Overall inflation eased for a second month in a row amid lower gasoline prices, with the consumer price index climbing seven per cent in August, which was lower than what economists expected.
Charlebois said while many economists are comparing food inflation data to what it was 40 years ago, the reality is that higher prices were only an issue for a few months then.
“Now it's been that food inflation dilemma that has been lingering for quite some time,” Charlebois said.
“In fact, our food inflation rate has outpaced the general inflation rate for several months now and that's why a lot of people are noticing higher prices at the grocery store. So now we're seeing Canadians just committing to a different strategy, because they know they don't have much of a choice.”
A representative survey of Canadians was conducted in September 2022, in partnership with Caddle. 5,000 Canadians participated in this survey. Margin of Error: +/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20. Any discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.