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Report says relief coming for Canadian grocery prices in 2024

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A recent report of more than 30 experts from several universities says some relief is coming at the grocery checkout in 2024.

"There's good news and bad news," said Cody Kupferschmidt, PhD Candidate at Guelph University.

"Last year we forecasted food prices would increase between five and seven per cent. We saw an actual increase of 5.9 per cent. The good news is, even though prices are going to go up this year, the rate at which they're going up is going to be a little lower. Were estimating 2.5 and 4.5 per cent across all categories."

The cost of bakery items, meat and produce are expected to continue to rise, while dairy is expected to drop.

"We're forecasting it'll be one of the lowest categories," Kupferschmidt said.

In 2023, Canadians spent less at the grocery stores overall.

"The average spending was about $10 less per month than the previous year, and that sounds kind of counterintuitive as food prices went up," said Kupferschmidt.

"What we saw was consumers made choices to purchase less expensive alternatives, going off brand."

Still, a family of four is expected to spend roughly $16, 297 on groceries next year, an increase of $700.

The Sudbury Food Bank said it supports 17,000 people a month through the 44 agencies it serves. Executive director Dan Xilon said this year saw an increase in people coming in for help, seeing more first-time users and individuals who work full-time.

"Based on the number of people that have work that are coming in for help, it’s obvious (that) it’s tough on people out there," he said.

While food is set to increase less than in years prior, Xilon doesn't believe it will make much of a difference.

"When they say it's not going to go high, is not as exciting as saying hopefully prices will go lower, because that’s simply not the case,” he said.

A recent report of more than 30 experts from several universities says some relief is coming at the grocery checkout in 2024. (Photo from video)

“So you're not going to go from $5 for a loaf of bread, or $4 for a loaf of bread, to $3, which would be much more beneficial … It won't be as bad, but it won't be much better."

Sudbury restaurant Peppi Panini said this past year has proven difficult due to the high cost of food.

"Every month, every week, they seem to be going up and unfortunately there's only so high you can put a panini and you want people coming in your doors," said co-owner Julia Bertin.

"You have to make that medium and with everything going up as well, it's made it very difficult."

PREMIUM MEAT AND CHEESE

Bertin said her restaurant uses premium meat and cheese for its items. A shortage in certain supplies has added challenges.

She said a smaller increase in food prices will help, but that there are a number of factors at play.

"Inflation has reached everywhere with minimum wage increasing, everything else goes up, there's money going out and everybody has increased their prices," Bertin said.

"So its not just food costs, unfortunately."

Bertin said a number of establishments are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A lot of restaurants are able to stay open because of that loan they were given and it's coming due in January, so you might see some businesses close," she said.

While a number of factors influence the price of food, it's estimated geo-political tensions and climate change will play a big role in grocery prices in 2024.

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