The price of groceries has increased around 9.4% this year, making it more expensive than gas in parts of the country
It is becoming more common to find people who don’t fill their carts when visiting a supermarket because of the cost.
In response to a question about this issue on social media by CNN, Loblaw Companies Limited — the country’s largest grocer — said that what it was seeing was more about inflation.
“To measure inflation you need to look at the weight in average spending — the total amount on a basket — not the price per item,” the company said in a statement.
That’s a likely explanation, as people are increasingly careful to pack their shopping cart to avoid spending a lot. The average Canadian spent $1,728 on food in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.
“I believe this is more a pricing than a consumer behavior issue,” John Kroeger, president of Walmart Canada, which owns superstores and the discount Walmart Supercentre, said of the supermarket price increases, according to the Globe and Mail. “The food inflation has come not only from higher raw product costs but has also been a reflection of fluctuations in the price of fuel and therefore the cost of shipping.”
Commodity costs that make up a large portion of the cost of food products has risen sharply recently, too.
But the price increases have also been attributed to a supply chain issue that one food industry expert called “a direct result of austerity in Alberta.”
“The financial situation in Alberta and the short supply of crops at the farm level, most dramatically our cash crop, due to the climate conditions that affected planting, has led to significantly higher prices,” John Bull, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Alberta, told CNN.
Bull said the problem will likely stay for about another year as the industry tries to absorb the cost increases.
“Any cash crop is going to be more difficult to grow at this time in the year,” he said.