Inflation: Which foods are the most expensive in Canada?

Grocery prices continue to be one of the largest contributors to high inflation in Canada.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for June showed an inflation rate of 2.8 per cent year-over-year, following a 3.4 per cent increase in May 2023.

While this decrease was positive, Statistics Canada said it was “fairly broad-based.”

“Canadians continued to see elevated grocery prices (9.1 per cent) and mortgage interest costs (30.1 per cent) in June, with those indexes contributing the most to the headline CPI increase,” the CPI reads. “The all-items excluding food index rose 1.7 per cent.”

Gasoline led to a decrease in the overall inflation slowdown, the agency said.

Grocery prices have continued to increase each month, even though the items that cost Canadians the most fluctuate.

“We’re seeing the food inflation rate drop slowly,” Sylvain Charlebois, a professor and director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. “As consumers, we should expect more deals, but we shouldn’t expect food prices to drop.”

In June, meat, bakery items, dairy products and prepared foods were the largest contributors to inflation.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

The price for fruits grew faster in June than in May, the CPI says.

This was driven in large part by the price of grapes, which skyrocketed 30 per cent from May to June.

This increased the price of the “other fresh fruit category” on the CPI food breakdown table, which includes other berries and cherries.

The price of oranges increased by 2.3 per cent between May and June, which resulted in a year-over-year price increase of 16.5 per cent.

Potatoes cost 4.8 per cent more in June than they did in May. This was a year-over-year 9.3 per cent increase.

Bananas also increased in price slightly, raising 0.5 per cent between May and June, representing a year-over-year increase of 0.7 per cent. They are one of the products that have largely avoided the impacts of inflation.


Tomatoes had a 5.4 per cent decrease in price between May and June. Year-over-year, they remained one of the more expensive products, costing 12.6 per cent more than they did at this time in 2022.

Some vegetable prices fell in June, decreasing the overall year-over-year impact of inflation in this category.

Lettuce prices fell 8.7 per cent between May and June, with a lower year-over-year inflation rate of 6 per cent.

RICE, FLOUR AND BAKERY

Cookies and crackers are among the most impacted grocery products in Canada, the CPI notes.

Year-over-year, the items increased in price by 15 per cent, but saw a slight decrease of 0.3 per cent month-to-month.

Breakfast cereal increased in price month-to-month and year-over-year.

Between May and June, the cost of cereal increased 1.3 per cent, which resulted in a 14.8 per cent year-over-year price increase.

Rice was another food item that cost more in June than it did before.

The product increased in price by 1.4 per cent from May to June. Year-over-year, this rose to 9.6 per cent.

Flour and flour-based mixtures continued to be elevated in June, with a 9.8 per cent year-over-year increase, and a slight (0.7 per cent) increase from May.

On the flip side, Canadians saw a decrease in the price of pasta products in June. Year-over-year, these items cost 8.3 per cent more last month, prices that were on average 6.3 per cent lower than in May.

DAIRY, RESTAURANTS AND MEAT

StatCan blamed meat as a contributor to why grocery prices remained high in June.

“We were expecting months ago that meat prices would go up, particularly beef,” Charlebois said. “And that’s exactly what’s happening right now due to the drought in the US and the drought also in the Prairies.”

Fresh and frozen beef led to the increase, costing Canadians 2.1 per cent more in June than in May. These prices represent a 9.4 per cent increase for the product year-over-year.

Fish, fresh or frozen, also contributed to high meat prices in June.


Year-over-year, the products saw an inflation rate of 4.8 per cent, and a 1.1 per cent increase from May to June.

Despite an increase in some meats, fresh and frozen poultry remained relatively steady in June.

Between May and June, the product decreased in price by 0.6 per cent. They saw a year-over-year inflation rate of 8.1 per cent.

Some dairy products saw a sizable decrease in price between May and June.

In May, the cost of ice-cream-related products was on the rise just as the weather started to warm up, but by June, the price dropped 3.4 per cent. This continued to be high year-over-year, with an inflation rate of 8.5 per cent.

Butter also dropped slightly in price, resulting in a year-over-year inflation rate of 8.2 per cent. Between May and June, this decreased by 0.6 per cent.

The price of cheese continues to be higher, at 5 per cent more than in June 2022, but shoppers did see a small decrease month-to-month of 0.5 per cent.

Eggs had a small (0.2 per cent) increase in price between May and June. Year-over-year, the product was pegged at a rate of 8.9 per cent.

Canadians purchasing food at restaurants could notice a slight increase in the price of their meals.

After an increase in May, restaurant food continued on an upward trajectory, rising by 0.3 per cent the next month. This resulted in a 6.6 per cent increase year-over-year.

Charlebois says Canadians should keep an eye on what is happening overseas because it could impact some food items.

“You saw last fall what happened to food prices when Ukraine was invaded — this could happen again,” he said. “But other than that, we are expecting (prices) to slowly drop as we end 2023.”

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