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Canadians could pay $700 more for groceries in 2021

Last Updated Jan 2, 2021 at 8:20 am PDT

Beef products from New Zealand with a QR-code linked to its coronavirus test results are displayed at a supermarket in Beijing, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China has stirred controversy with claims it has detected the coronavirus on packages of imported frozen food. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

CALGARY – You may be looking to get ahead in 2021, but expect your grocery bill to set you back. A recent study suggests Canadians could be spending as much as $700 more on their food bill next year.

Canada’s food report says grocery stores are looking to recover extra expenses brought on by COVID-19 and those extra costs will be passed on to you.

“Meat is very much about COVID-19. There were a lot of disruptions in the supply chain over the last little while. We are expecting that momentum to continue into 2021,” said lead study author Sylvain Charlebois.

Charlebois says normally one meat source is affected by food inflation, but the pandemic has forced a price increase for chicken, pork, and beef.

The increase in vegetable prices is largely due to the California wildfires.

“The smoke was so intense it affected the harvest. So, if you go to grocery stores right now, you’ll see a lot of imported products coming from elsewhere than California and the United States.”

The report estimated the average Canadian family spent just over $12,500 on food this past year. Charlebois says that’s slightly lower than what was forecast for 2020.

COVID-19 restrictions could be a factor with people eating at restaurants less frequently. The report predicts close to $14,000 in 2021 will be spent on food—an increase of about five per cent.

“Twenty-three per cent of employers are planning to allow their staff to work from home most of the time after the pandemic, which means people will certainly have a different relationship with their kitchen and with food generally speaking,” he said.

For people looking to save money, Charlebois advises you to look to generic store brands and get friendly with the freezer section.

“You can find good deals in the freezers at the grocery store. Prices are much less volatile. It’s not the same thing as fresh, but if you’re on a tight budget it will save you a lot of money.”