Heat, drought and pandemic to blame for rise in food prices: expert


If you’ve been to the grocery story lately, you may have experienced sticker shock.

Food prices are high, and experts warn they’ll continue to climb this fall because of several factors — starting with the pandemic.

“Supply chain disruptions have actually impacted the efficiency of supply chain, it’s costing more to move anything around,” said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, the senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics lLab at Dalhousie University.

Another factor in soaring food prices is the summer-long drought that affected not only B.C., but many regions across Canada.

Grain farmers have been struggling with damaged crops, causing livestock producers to spend more money on food for their cattle and pigs.

READ MORE: ‘Substantial amount’ of rain needed on Vancouver Island to reduce drought conditions, fire risk

Already this year, the price of beef is up 10 per cent, with pork up five per cent.

But the most concerning meat counter item hit by rising prices is chicken, according to Charlebois.

“That’s not a good sign,” he said. “Chicken is like the tide in the meat trifecta, if chicken actually becomes more expensive everything else will become more expensive.”

However, there is an aisle in the grocery store where products have actually become more affordable.

“Produce is actually cheaper this year, 7.5 per cent on average,” said Charlebois.

Despite a challenging year for wildfires in the province, surprisingly they haven’t had a huge impact.

“Coming out of the summer here in B.C. we rely on a lot of local produce so that’s been a nice thing, there hasn’t been too much affecting us in terms of that,” says Craig Cavin, the operations manager of South Island Country Grocer.

But experts warn it may be harder to find that B.C.-grown sticker in the fall, and they also say don’t be surprised when prices rise again.

“They (customers) have been shopping here for a long time, they go ‘Why is the price increasing suddenly?’ It’s not us gouging people by any means. We have to adjust our prices based off what we’re paying for the goods as well,” said Cavin.

For the foreseeable future, shoppers should expect to be spending a little more money at the store.

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Hannah LepineHannah Lepine

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