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Food bills will rise in 2018

Weather conditions and a switch to convenience foods will drive the trend

The average Canadian family of four will be paying $348 more to feed themselves in 2018, with total expenditures pegged to rise to $11,948.

That’s according to the eighth annual Canada’s Food Price Report jointly released Dec. 13 by Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph.

“Canadians want to know what will impact the prices of their food,” said lead author Sylvain Charlebois. “Our report continues to provide them with the information they are looking for – around food quality, trends and impacts on the price of food in their region of the country.”

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Charlebois said while the report forecasts modest increases in many food categories, the price of vegetables is expected to rise by as much as six per cent because of unaccommodating climate conditions. La Niña, a reoccurring weather phenomenon that affects global climate patterns, will likely result in below-average precipitation in farming-intensive regions of the southern United States. Fruit prices are expected to increase by as much as three per cent.

The report also predicts Canadians will continue to shift towards convenience foods, spending more in restaurants and for ready-to-eat products.

The average family is expected to spend $208 more when eating out compared to 2017, an increase of almost eight per cent. That means that almost 30 per cent of consumers’ food budget will be spent on food service, the highest ever recorded.

Other food categories such as dairy, bakery products, meat and seafood are not expected to rise by more than two per cent.

Food price increases are expected to affect most provinces, but will be consistent with the general inflation rate for 2018.

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