Cost of cooking ingredients continue to rise causing strain on some small businesses

Salma Semaan, the owner of Mrs. P's Bakery in Halifax, says the rising costs of ingredients may force her to turn off her ovens.

The rising prices of ingredients have some small businesses in the Maritimes struggling to make ends meet.

A fresh batch of Nanaimo bars are ready at Mrs. P's Bakery in Halifax, but owner Salma Semaan says rising costs may force her to turn off her ovens.

“I see the end to us more than I see the end of the big guy's right? Small businesses are closing,” says Semaan.

Another cost increase is expected to come for cooking oil.

“It was in the $20s and now we’re talking in the $40s, it’s creeping up a lot more than that. We just got notice last week approximately by the end of the month or the beginning of next month it will be up to $60,” Semaan says.

There are number of factors to blame, including an export ban on palm oil in Indonesia, labour issues in Malaysia, canola oil producers in Canada dealing with drought, as well as soy bean oil producers in South America.

Finally, the war in Ukraine is also taking sunflower oil off the market.

“In a few months from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more rationing happening. So, we may be asked to buy one or two bottles per visit instead of buying all we want,” says Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois.

There is some canola grown in Nova Scotia and those in the agriculture industry are confident local farmers could grow more to help meet the demand if the crop didn't have to be shipped to Quebec and Ontario for processing.

“We can do a lot here, we just don’t have all the infrastructure we need to process, to get it to where the consumer can use it,” says Tim Marsh, the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.