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Food inflation: rising trend ; the decline in 2024

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The authors of the Annual Report on Food Prices in Canada estimate that a family of four will pay $16,300 for food next year. (Archive image)

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After two strong years of x27;food inflation, Canadian consumers can expect a reprieve in grocery stores in 2024 as price growth is expected to range from 2.5 to 4%, according to the Annual Report on Food Prices in Canada.< /p>

Bakery products, meat and vegetables will experience the most significant price increases, predict researchers from four Canadian universities who contributed to the drafting of the document published Thursday.

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Generally, we don't expect substantial [price] increases at the grocery store, indicates Sylvain Charlebois, project manager and director of the agri-food analytical science laboratory at Dalhousie University.

We expect an easier year financially for Canadian families.

A quote from Sylvain Charlebois, director of the agri-food analytical science laboratory at Dalhousie University.

A family of four will spend around $700 on more to eat next year, bringing their total annual food spending to nearly $16,300

Source: Report annual report on food prices

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He estimates that the price of some products, like coffee and pasta, could even be lower in 12 months than they are today.

Despite high inflation, the group of experts estimates that Canadians have reduced their grocery spending this year, in part by shopping more at discount supermarkets.

According to Mr. Charlebois, the high food inflation at the start of the year was largely attributable to residual supply issues from the pandemic as well as the conflict in Ukraine.

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Sylvain Charlebois, director of the agri-food analytical science laboratory at Dalhousie University, at the annual conference of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) on March 14, 2023. (Archive photo)

These factors exerting upward pressure on the cost of food have eased in recent months, which should contribute to a stabilization of prices, explains the food expert 'food industry.

He now says he is monitoring the conflict in the Middle East. Geopolitics is always a factor that can derail our forecasts, he notes.

Jean-Philippe Gervais, economist in head of Farm Credit Canada, says he has also observed a drop in the price of raw materials and processing costs since July. According to him, these lower costs for producers should soon be reflected in grocery prices.

It takes some time […] to see consumer prices that reflect what we already see in terms of production costs.

A quote from Jean-Philippe Gervais, chief economist at Financing agricultural Canada

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The reduction in food production costs should help stabilize grocery prices, according to economist Jean-Philippe Gervais. (Stock image)

However, some persistent issues, such as labor shortages and high borrowing costs, will continue to push up food prices, said the economist.

Climate change also has its say. According to Professor Charlebois, the tens of thousands of products sold in grocery stores are influenced in one way or another by environmental issues.

Every day, we hear talk about a [climatic] phenomenon which will eventually affect prices, he illustrates.

The question is not whether the weather will hurt the production of certain commodities next year, but rather which ones will be hit the hardest, ;after Sylvain Charlebois.

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This year, many regions of the globe experienced periods of drought which affected agricultural production, underlines Sylvain Charlebois. (Stock image)

Despite the gradual decrease in food inflation, political pressure to stabilize grocery prices is not diminishing.

Again this week , food giants were summoned before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food in Ottawa to discuss their efforts to curb price increases.

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Empire CEO Michael Medline was summoned before the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food on Monday. (Stock image)

Michael Medline, CEO of Empire, the parent company of Sobeys and IGA among others, said it extended its price freeze between November and January to about 20,000 products, or 1,700 more than planned. /p>

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If the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne attributes this measure to the meetings he held with grocers this fall, Mr. Charlebois does not see how the federal government's operation could have have a substantial influence on the food industry.

I think this x27;is just politics.

A quote from Sylvain Charlebois

In October, Minister Champagne said he was only at the beginning of a major process to stabilize the price of food in the country.

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