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Consumers preparing to pay more for food in 2022

 Your grocery and restaurant bills are expected to increase significantly next year, according to a new report on food prices.

Researchers estimate some people could be paying nearly $1,000 more to feed their families in 2022.

At Cantor’s Quality Meats and Groceries in Winnipeg, shopper Kay Walker’s cart was nearly full, but the 85-year-old worries she may have to start making do with less.

“Pensioners don’t get a raise,” said Walker. “We understand the prices are going to go up.”

According to the 2022 edition of Canada’s Food Price Report, released by Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, cost increases could reach new heights in 2022.

“All-in-all, seven per cent, which is the highest percentage we’ve ever predicted in 12 years,” said Sylvain Charlebois, project lead and director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

But the report forecasts Manitoba will see below average increases.

“The Prairies, in general, are very lucky because you’re very close to where the food comes from,” said Janet Music, a research program coordinator at Dalhousie’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

On average, a family of four can expect to pay about $966 more for food next year, for a total annual cost of nearly $15,000.

“It’s going to hurt,” said Ed Cantor, owner of Cantor’s Quality Meats and Groceries. “People — their money doesn’t go as far anymore. It’s hard for anybody to make it like they used to.”

Cantor said he is already seeing price hikes on meat, which have since stabilized, along with produce.

The food report predicts the biggest price increases will be on dairy products and eating out at restaurants, which could go up between six and eight per cent.

Meantime, bakery and vegetable prices are expected to rise between five and seven per cent.

“It just gets too expensive,” Cantor said. “By the time you buy just the necessities, you haven’t done anything. You haven’t made a cake yet.”

COVID-19 supply chain disruptions, labour market challenges and climate change are being blamed for driving up production and transportation costs.

“I guess everything’s gotta go up,” said shopper Frank La Guardian. “With the pandemic and all that right now, everything’s been disrupted. And then the weather…the farmers — I know farmers, their crops are terrible.”

However, as prices in the store rise, The National Farmers Union said in a news release that money isn’t making it back to producers growing the food.

Shoppers said they have to pay close attention to what they pay for certain products and look for alternatives to fresh produce in the frozen food section.

“We just have to deal with it,” said Walker. “We just can’t buy what we used to buy.”

Researchers said the forecasted increase on the price of vegetables is a concern from a public health perspective because consumers may be tempted to cut back on buying healthy foods.

The food report also notes higher costs may lead to increased rates of theft. That is something many stores have already been dealing with and an issue Cantor pointed to as one of the ripple effects of continued price increases. He said it has forced him to hire a security guard for his store. Top Stories

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