Canadians, Londoners changing food habits amid rising prices

Inflation as a whole dropped in Canada for the second straight month in August. However, the cost of food continues to grow according to Statistics Canada by a rate of 10.8 per cent — the highest escalation in food prices since 1981.

“Unlike 40 years ago, when inflation was an issue for just a few months, Canadians are absolutely aware now that this food inflation boogeyman will be around for a while” says Sylvain Charlebois, senior director at the Agri-foods Analytics Labs at Dalhousie University .

The lab recently surveyed 5,000 Canadians about changes they have made when it comes to purchasing food.

“They’re buying food in different places. They’re buying food differently. They’re using different mechanisms like loyalty program points, looking at flyers. They’re also using food rescuing apps,” Charlebois says of the findings.

The survey found over 40 percent of consumers are trying to waste less food.

“I’ve definitely been trying to buy more value items. When I go grocery shopping [I’m] just more conscious about what I’m buying, not buying anything that’s like pre made,” says Joe after coming out of a grocery store on Wednesday with a few items in hand.

“If butter is on sale at $4.99 I’m buying…three or four of them [to] put them in the freezer, but I think we all have to do our part. It’s been pretty tough on all of us,” says Jay who is actively looking for deals to store up items his family uses often.

One of the most shocking statistics in the survey was nearly one in four Canadians say they are buying less food because of the prices — and according to Charlebois, there is a gender bias in those statistics.

“There is this sense of desperation out there,” says Charlebois. “24 percent of Canadians are actually literally buying less food due to higher prices, and [out of] that number almost 70 percent are women.”

Women CTV News London spoke to support that argument.

“I won’t buy meat unless I can get it on sale now. I won’t buy it. But it does help to just get the sales, you know,” says Leslie Smith.

Noele meanwhile is approaching purchasing in a different way to reduce waste.

“This is only two of us. And lots of you know I think…use that, but you don’t and it gets thrown away,” she says. “So it’s almost like back to a market style. You do it every couple of days, and that’s it.”

With no signs of inflation slowing in the food sector, the survey suggests more people are cooking at home instead of eating out, and changing their habits for a new reality that may last for some time.

Among the foods that have risen the most in cost, spices, bakery products and fresh fruit were all over 13 percent.

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