Story by Martin MacMahon
Canadians are paying a premium to eat healthy, and loading up the cart with fresh vegetables has become far more expensive over the past year.
According to new data released by Statistics Canada on June 19, prices for fresh vegetables are up almost 17 per cent over last year in May.
That’s the eighth straight month of double digit gains, and the fastest yearly growth since the start of 2016. The price gains are widespread across the produce aisle, with even potatoes costing 16 per cent more and tomatoes up 14 per cent.
Dalhousie University professor Sylvan Charlebois says celery is one of the most expensive, with prices for a stalk as much as $9.
“Consumers are starting to notice, especially with celery and other types of produce,” he says. “Typically when consumers are spooked with product prices, they tend to go with some visits in the freezer aisle.”
Food prices rose overall by 3.5 per cent in the same year. Statistics Canada reports the rise in prices likely reflects challenging weather conditions and supply shortages in some growing areas.
“It’s due to unfortunate weather patterns. It was expected, that’s what we were expecting when we released Canada’s Food Price Report back in December, we were expecting food prices to be quite volatile this year and that’s exactly what’s happening, unfortunately.”
But Charlebois says he believes prices will stabilize this summer.