Canada’s Food Price Report 2024 shows food prices will continue to climb in 2024, but not as much as in previous years and a slow return to price stability.

The 14th edition of the report, a collaborative effort between Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of British Columbia, shows overall food prices for the coming year will increase by 2.5% to 4.5%, with the average family of four expected to spend $16,297 on food. It’s an increase of just over $700 year-over-year, with meat, vegetables, and bakery goods seeing the most significant cost increases. Last year’s report projected a five to seven percent jump.

“The estimated increase of 2.5-4.5% for 2024 provides customers with much-needed relief from the higher increases observed in previous years,” says Stuart Smyth, Chair of Agri-Food Innovation and Sustainability Enhancement at the University of Saskatchewan. “They should expect to see a degree of stability return to food prices. I am optimistic that the phrase ‘sticker-shock’ will become less commonly used throughout grocery stores in 2024.”

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Along with food cost estimates, the report also shows consumers are spending less on food. Food retail sales data show a decline in monthly spending per capita between August 2022 and August 2023, with annual spending for a family of four being $693 lower than projected. While that’s understandable considering food costs in 2023, researchers say it is cause for concern. It indicates Canadians are decreasing the quantity and quality of the food they’re buying.

It’s no surprise that Canadians have been under considerable financial stress this year, according to Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. From higher rental and utility rates, unprecedented wildfires across the country driving up commodity prices, and rising energy costs due to ongoing conflicts in Europe and the Middle East, among other issues, many people are feeling the pinch.

“The year 2023 posed significant financial challenges for Canadian families, one of the toughest in recent memory,” he says.

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Along with food prices, the report indicates consumers are losing trust in the grocery sector, which will likely see record profits this year. Researchers say the introduction of Bill C-56 will likely result in enhanced competition in the grocery sector and potentially ease some of the burden on customers.

For additional insights and a detailed overview of the report, click here