Families may spend almost $700 more on groceries in 2021: report

·2 min read

The pandemic has changed the ways in which we eat and next year it's going to cost us.

Because of factors due to COVID-19, the cost of food will be increasing in 2021 and families can expect to add $695 to their grocery bill, according to the latest Canada Food Price report.

Sylvain Charlebois, the lead author of the report, told CBC Calgary News at 6 that three categories are expected to raise in price.

"Meat, bakery and vegetables … we're expecting those categories to actually drive food inflation," he said.

"People may wonder there's nothing wrong with food inflation, which is true, but it becomes a problem when people will have to increase the percentage of their budget for food."

Charlebois says part of the reason is that 2020 left us more domesticated and changed our relationship with food.

"We stayed in in the heart of the home, the kitchen. We processed way more food ourselves," he said.

As well, sectors like the meat industry have been particularly impacted this year with several plants temporarily closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks.

Charlebois says the new year would usually only see one meat component increase in price rather than all three — beef, chicken and pork.

"Really right now, a lot of a lot of sectors are struggling with higher operational costs overall. And that's why we saw prices go up at the meat counter in general."

He says the cost of vegetables is also increasing due to food importers having to go elsewhere beyond California.

Food service industry impacts

The food service industry has been hit hard this year with 30 per cent of restaurants closing down, says Charlebois.

However, he says, in 2021, they expect that news of the vaccine will make people more confident to go out to eat.

"A lot of them have pivoted. They are dealing with consumers online. They're using apps and so they have different options instead of just offering their meals in a dining hall."

There will also be a drive toward e-commerce, says Charlebois.

"Over the next five years, we're going to see grocers spend $12 billion in their e-commerce strategy. So it's not going to go away. Grocers are starting to learn how to make money online," he said.

With files from CBC Calgary News at 6.