By Claudia Cheung
As we welcome the much-awaited New Year, get ready to light to lighten your pockets the next time you go grocery shopping as food prices are set to go up by 3-5 per cent in 2021.
Vibe 105 recently discussed with Professor Sylvian Charlebois - Dalhousie University, about the upcoming rise in food prices and tips on saving for groceries.
Dr. Charlebois is also lead author of Canada's Food Price Report 11th Edition 2021.
According to the report, overall food prices will increase by 3 to 5%. An average family of four can expect to pay $695 (5%) more for food in 2021 and annual food expense will increase to $13,907. This prediction is the highest increase the report has ever anticipated. The pandemic affected the whole agri-food chain - from farmers to consumers.
As both meat and vegetables are going to increase by 4.5% to 6.5%, it would be challenging to eat healthier.
"Meat and vegetables are important components to anyone's diets, which of course, unless you are a vegan or vegetarian. What is unusual about 2020 is that the entire meat - beef, pork and chicken, is affected by what (is) going on with COVID-19. We are expecting that trend to continue into the New Year," Dr. Charlebois explains.
If you want to eat more green and vegetables but could not afford it, Dr. Charlebois recommends buying frozen vegetables.
"When it comes to nutrition, a lot of people are surprised at the quality you would get in freezers at the grocery store. Often people do not think of freezers as a good potential source of nutrients. However, the freezer aisle can offer you some pretty good deals if you're very careful and watch what you're eating.”
Would restaurant prices go up affecting people's decision to go out after the lockdown?
Dr. Charlebois says there would be some pent-up demand.
"I think a lot of people will want to go out as soon as possible, just to enjoy life again. There have been many closures and new restaurants opening. People will want to try these new restaurants; new restaurants tend to bring a lot of business. Getting people out is good for the economy. If you made the economy work for everyone, then everyone benefits eventually.”
Additionally, here are some tips on how to save money on groceries.
"Don't go to the store with your children when they have an empty stomach. It's scientifically demonstrated that you'll be buying things you don't necessarily need."
"People should check their receipts more. We believe that 5 to 7% of receipts have made the mistake of overcharging you for an item. They might charge you for the same item twice.”
"Stay home and cook. However, a lot of people will experience cooking fatigue, so you want to treat yourself now and then," he says. "One in five Canadians started gardening this year. You can garden (anywhere) nowadays with the proper technology. You can have your garden indoors if you don't have space."
Dr. Charlebois continues: "Try to stay away from online shopping. Because it will prevent you from having access to some good deals in stores."
"Use coupons and look at flyers at the grocery stores. Know exactly how much you should be paying. You want to be as informed as possible to save as much as possible."
Now that you have the grocery saving tips from the food expert, do not throw away those flyers from the grocery store in your mailbox; you might score yourself a good!
Save some dollars in the New Year and shop smart.
Happy 2021, everyone!