Here's how much more Canadians can expect to pay for food in 2022

The average family of four in Canada can expect to spend $966 more on food in 2022 than they did in 2021.

That’s according to a new report published on Thursday by researchers with Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of British Columbia.

The 12th edition of Canada’s Food Price Report projects that in 2022 the average family of four will spend up to $14,767 on food.

The report said overall, food prices are expected to increase by five to seven per cent in 2022, as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing supply chain issues.

But which items will cost more and where? Here’s a closer look at what the report says.

WHICH FOODS WILL COST MORE?

The report’s authors split food into several categories to determine which items will cost more, and by how much.

Here’s a look at the projections for 2022.

  • Dairy products are expected to cost between six and eight per cent more.
  • The price of bakery goods is expected to increase by five to seven per cent.
  • Vegetables are forecast to cost five to seven per cent more.
  • Fruits are expected to cost three to five per cent more.
  • Meat and seafood are projected to cost up to two per cent more.

According to the report, it will also cost Canadians more to eat out, with prices at restaurants expected to increase by six to eight per cent in 2022.

“Menu prices at restaurants are predicted to increase as businesses contend with rising food prices, rising commercial rents and labour market challenges,” the report reads.

WHY WILL FOOD COST MORE?

Sylvain Charlebois, who co-authored the report, is a professor at Dalhousie University and the scientific director at Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

He said while the situation is complicated, there are three main factors that are causing food prices to increase.

First, Charlebois said, commodity process are going up.

“That’s really making everything more expensive in the agri-food sector,” he said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca. “Including feeding livestock, to making food, to processing, etc.”

The second factor, he said, is labour.

“We’re seeing more and more of the fact that salaries are going up – which is great,” he said. “But in a high-volume, low-margin environment you have to make adjustments with prices.”

The third factor causing prices to increase is logistics, Charlebois explained.

“Transportation is costing more,” he said. “And so some products are more affected than others.”

The authors of the report say they are expecting some “important lingering issues to impact global food supply chains” in 2022.

“With limited access to some ingredients and higher input costs, we anticipate less choice as food processors and manufacturers will consolidate their portfolio of brands,” the report reads.

There will also be fewer menu choices and higher menu prices at restaurants.

“We will continue to feel the effects of ongoing supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, labour market challenges and high inflation in 2022,” the report said. “Companies may experience high international shipping costs and empty shelves as a result.”

AN ONGOING TREND

Charlebois said food price increases are a trend Canadians will have to get used to.

“I actually do think that higher prices are here to stay,” he said. “And we’re going to have to get accustomed to higher food bills.”

However, Charlebois said there are ways to save at the grocery store.

He said if consumers are flexible and “food literate” they can find good deals for their food.

Charlebois said if consumers are willing to switch brands or shop at multiple stores, they can save some money at the register.  

“If you're very specific, you don't shift your expectations, [and] you’re very difficult -- of course you’re going to pay more,” he said.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD PRICES

The authors of the report say climate change is also impacting food prices.

“In 2022, we can anticipate the ongoing effects of the continuing climate crisis and adverse weather effects on food prices,” the report reads. 

The authors say wildfires, record-breaking heat and drought, floods and cold fronts are “becoming increasingly commonplace and affecting food prices year after year.”

“For certain food categories that have felt the impact of adverse weather in 2021, we may yet see an increase in costs because of forward-buying in the chain—for example, meat and grain,” the report says.

WHERE WILL FOOD COST MORE?

According to the report, food prices will vary across the country.

The report projects some provinces – Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Saskatchewan -- will all experience above average food price increases.

Other provinces – such as Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec -- are expected to see below average food price increases.

FOOD INSECURITY

The authors of the report warn that in 2022, food insecurity will “be a big issue as Canadians grapple with rising prices.”

“There will likely be more demand for and reliance on food programs or food banks if incomes do not rise to meet food expenditures and other basic needs,” the report reads.

The authors said organizations that provide aid to those experiencing food insecurity might have difficulty meeting increased demand -- something many have already seen.

"People who have made a certain amount of money and always got by are not getting by anymore. And as things have increased, we're seeing people at the window who've never asked for help," Evelyn McNulty, executive director at Romero House, a St. John, N.L.-based soup kitchen, told CTV National News.Charlebois said the main issue is food affordability.

“In 2020, Canada was ranked 18th in the world when it came to food affordability, according to the United Nations,” he said. “So we're not first, but we're not 100 and 50th, either.”

However, in 2021, Canada ranked 24th on that list.

“And if you asked me in 2022, we’re likely to drop even more in the rankings,” Charlebois said. “And that’s a concern – meaning wages aren’t going up [and] some people are being left behind. That’s the biggest concern.”

Read the complete report here: