Food inflation

Nadya Bell
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Economy Province sees highest bread price increase in Canada

In the bakery section of a St. John's grocery store, two kids hang out of a shopping cart and nag their father for Jos Louis. On the other side of the aisle, a family looks at the bread selection, their grocery cart stacked with toilet paper, frozen meat and bags of chips. The woman gathers up loaves of bread on special.

Aware of it or not, these people are dealing with bread prices in Newfoundland that have gone up more than 13 per cent in the last year alone. But maybe they do know - the man says they've already got three loaves at home, while the woman picks up a third multigrain loaf, and tells him it's a treat.

Bread prices in Newfoundland that have gone up more than 13 per cent in the last year alone. Photo by The Canadian Press

In the bakery section of a St. John's grocery store, two kids hang out of a shopping cart and nag their father for Jos Louis. On the other side of the aisle, a family looks at the bread selection, their grocery cart stacked with toilet paper, frozen meat and bags of chips. The woman gathers up loaves of bread on special.

Aware of it or not, these people are dealing with bread prices in Newfoundland that have gone up more than 13 per cent in the last year alone. But maybe they do know - the man says they've already got three loaves at home, while the woman picks up a third multigrain loaf, and tells him it's a treat.

Her $2.79 multigrain loaf likely cost only $1.50 back in 2002.

Across Canada, the rising cost of wheat has pushed the cost of bread up, but thanks to higher transportation costs as well, Newfoundland is seeing more price increases than anywhere else.

Statistics Canada's Consumer Price Index tracks the price of 31 different classes of food at grocery stores across Canada and compares them to what they were in 2002. Their March figures show baked goods were up 43.5 per cent in Newfoundland, with the most noticeable increases happening in the fall of last year.

Local farmers say the cost of feeding chickens and cows on expensive grain is already working its way up the food chain. They say more price increases in grocery stores will soon be on the way.

Some Newfoundlanders are changing what they eat to make room for higher prices. Wanjiru Nderitu, a women's studies graduate student at Memorial University, says she's eating different food since the prices went up.

"I find meat is too expensive. We don't eat meat anymore. We eat beans instead," Nderitu says. "We used to eat a certain type of bread, but now we have had to switch to a cheaper one, because we are students and we just can't afford it."

International wheat prices in January 2008 were up 83 per cent from a year earlier, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. International corn and rice trade have also reached record highs.

The reason is the world has less in the cupboard - with a growing population and low grain reserves in most countries. Corn is now being used to make ethanol fuel on a large scale in the United States and Brazil, meaning there is more demand for grain and higher prices. Growing economies in China and India are also consuming more meat, which requires more grain to feed animals.

The high prices for staple foods have led to recent food riots in Mexico, Argentina, Namibia and Morocco, among many other countries. In Haiti, recent protests in Port-au-Prince reportedly surrounded the presidential palace, with the crowd yelling, "We're Hungry!"

This March alone, the price of bread in Newfoundland increased by four per cent. In all provinces, baked goods have increased more than any food product, according to the Consumer Price Index.

Prince Edward Island has had the closest increase to Newfoundland's, at 41 per cent, while Ontario's bread price is up 32 per cent, similar to most provinces.

Gerry Power, the sales manager at the Purity factory in St. John's, said the company has already had to increase prices on its products, most recently in February.

"With the cost of flour going the way it is, it's just a no win-situation, so we had to raise our prices," he says. "There's a lot of inflationary pressure there, and it looks like there will be for the time to come."

Baked goods are not the only food that is affected by the price of grain. The prices of chicken and milk in Newfoundland have also increased about 20 per cent compared to 2002.

"All the grains that we use here come from mostly out west and so the price of fuel has meant the price of grain here, by the time it's delivered to the farm, has gone up even more so than they have in other places," says Harry Burden, president of the Dairy Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Newfoundland produces its own milk, and Burden says that after a long time of stable pricing, milk was raised by three cents on Feb. 1, with more increases in the future.

He says dramatic increases in fuel prices over the past six months have had an effect on grain and hay prices. When he buys a truckload of grain in Ontario, he says, two-thirds of the cost is shipping.

The same problems are affecting Country Ribbon when it brings in boatloads of grain, company representative Ian Pittman says.

"Grain is a significant input cost for us - it's what we use in our feed formulations to raise our chickens, so rising grain costs, obviously, have had a significant impact on our cost of production, so our costs are rising," he says.

Although Country Ribbon sells directly to grocery stories, Pittman says its price increases will eventually be passed down to consumers.

Food prices were marginally lower in St. John's compared to the other three places where Statistics Canada does price sampling - Grand Falls, Corner Brook and Mount Pearl. Statistics Canada officials would not say which stores they go to, only that the products are representative of food prices.

With the increases in food prices, local food banks are worried they may not be getting as much flour and bread donated.

"You can't go to a grocery store and pick up your own groceries but there's always someone there complaining about the high cost of food. It's not only people who are going to food banks that are noticing this, but it's also the general public," says Eg Walters, director of the Community Food Sharing Association.

nbell@thetelegram.com

The Telegram asked "What do you think of rising food prices?" and you answered. To read the responses we got, see today's print edition of The Telegram.

Organizations: Statistics Canada, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Community Food Sharing Association

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, St. John's Ontario United States Brazil China India Mexico Argentina Namibia Morocco Haiti Port-au-Prince Country Ribbon Prince Edward Island Grand Falls Corner Brook Mount Pearl

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Rod
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    A 4L of milk here in southeast BC is $3.87; how much is it at home?

  • MP
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    $3.75 for 2 litres, so that's about double. We're being ripped off big time, and its been ongoig for years.

  • not surprised
    July 02, 2010 - 13:31

    Don't forget the Free Trade Agreement AND GST-----And WE swallowed it all , hook, line , and sinker. Government knew a windfall when they created it......

  • MP
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    The price of milk in Newfoundland is set artificially high by the provincial government through the milk marketing board. The provincial government subsidized both dairies here in Newfoundland to the tune of one million dollars each in the past year or so. It is worth noting neither dairy is Newfoundland owned. If the market were allowed to set the price of milk, it would be much lower. Thanks to the protection offered to the dairy farmers and the corporate dairies from the milk marketing board, we the public are paying too much for dairy products.

  • MP
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Greg : I agree 100%. Eliminate the milk marketing board, allow fresh milk importation, allow milk prices to drop to fair market prices, stop subsidizing the mainland owned dairies, the dairy farmers here can go ahead and retire if they can't or won't compete in real world conditions.

    Lynda, you think your grocry bill is bad, try a family of five, $250.00 per week.

  • Lynda
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    Everytime you open a newspaper or turn on the evening news - the cost of something has gone up. My spouse and I both work full time and make decent money and what cost us between $100 - $150 every 2 weeks for the basic staples, not including meat/fish at a supermarket now costs us over $200 and we don't have children yet to think about. The price of oil is outrageous and they say this is why we are paying more - because the cost of shipping is going up. Well, why can't wages go up? Wages do not reflect the constant changes in the economy - meaning the constant raise in the price of gas and food. I don't know why there can't be some kind of regulation on the cost of some items that people can't go without, like milk for example. I really don't know where it is all going to end up.

  • Shawna
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    It is ridiculous.... Soon people are not going to be able to afford to eat because the price of everything is on the rise and I notice it now on a regular basis when I get groceries. What use to cost you like $150-200 before is costing you almost $300. Times are getting tough and soon you will see alot more people using food banks. Something needs to be done!!!!!!!!

  • greg
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    It's time to cut the locel dairy producers loose once and foir all. They've had a free ride in the provinvce without any oppostion on this pretectionism. Time to put this sacred cow out to pasture and let them sink or swim in the free markets.

  • K
    July 02, 2010 - 13:18

    People think this is about oil, or the Milk Marketing Board? Please... its about the planet not be able to feed 6.6 BILLION people. You think prices are high now? Wait 30-40 years when the population is expected to reach 9 Billion. Bread and rice then will be a luxury few can afford. God help us......

  • frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    Yeah here in Smithers bc the price of a 2litre of milk is also 3.75. The product has to be transferred by truck 1100km from either Calgary or Vancouver. People in my home province are being ripped off big time on the most basic food staple. A more affordable milk price would make it more easier for working and poorer families to recieve a greater degree of nutriction. Such would be a important first step in building strong minds in our youth for example. I guess Danny has more important things to worry about like fed bashing

  • Topcat
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    It's gonna get to the point where we will have to go back to the land to sustain ourselves. The ever-increasing financial, and environmental, cost of using fuel will leave us no other alternative. A lot of goods and services depend on a viable transportation source to make it's way to market. The cost of this mode of transportation is magnified greatly when you live on an island.

    We'll have to go back to using both local and renewable resources to clothe, house, heat, and feed us. From an environomentally point of view, it is a sound practice.

    One advantage of living in Newfoundland is the resources this island holds to sustain life. We have plenty sources of food, both marine and land based, which, if we manage correctly will last us forever.

    The seal hunt is not looking so bad after all.

  • not surprised
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    No one should be the slightest surprised by this revelation.. The main reason for this is a slippery black substance called oil even though there are other factors to consider..
    When I was a kid in school one of the things we learned was supply and demand(economics). You need oil for production, costs increase for the farmer, passed to the broker, passed to the wholesaler, passed to the retailer to the consumer... No surprise here. Every time products are passed from one to another each has to increase the cost to make a profit(that's why if you buy from the farmer or producer it costs less). All this leads to a revolving circle of price increase and wage increase and so on and on.. Interesting enough the minimum wage has increased by the cost of a loaf of bread --- which still puts the deprived under thumb.....Think of all the good groceries you can buy for an hour's labour of $8.00 -- and you haven't paid your bills yet..As long as government sees fit to reap the benefits of high oil prices you will never see a change in the cost of commodities.. Simple. Some will argue to the contrary.....Even with a high Canadian dollar, imported products cost more -- go figure!

  • MP
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    I agree with you Topcat. The time is coming when we'll have no choice but to get back to some of the old ways, like cutting firewood and hauling it out with a horse, planting veggies, and keeping a few animals for milk and eggs. The wages are just not keeping up with the rising cost of living associated with the rising cost of oil.

  • Rod
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    A 4L of milk here in southeast BC is $3.87; how much is it at home?

  • MP
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    $3.75 for 2 litres, so that's about double. We're being ripped off big time, and its been ongoig for years.

  • not surprised
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    Don't forget the Free Trade Agreement AND GST-----And WE swallowed it all , hook, line , and sinker. Government knew a windfall when they created it......

  • MP
    July 01, 2010 - 20:18

    The price of milk in Newfoundland is set artificially high by the provincial government through the milk marketing board. The provincial government subsidized both dairies here in Newfoundland to the tune of one million dollars each in the past year or so. It is worth noting neither dairy is Newfoundland owned. If the market were allowed to set the price of milk, it would be much lower. Thanks to the protection offered to the dairy farmers and the corporate dairies from the milk marketing board, we the public are paying too much for dairy products.

  • MP
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Greg : I agree 100%. Eliminate the milk marketing board, allow fresh milk importation, allow milk prices to drop to fair market prices, stop subsidizing the mainland owned dairies, the dairy farmers here can go ahead and retire if they can't or won't compete in real world conditions.

    Lynda, you think your grocry bill is bad, try a family of five, $250.00 per week.

  • Lynda
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    Everytime you open a newspaper or turn on the evening news - the cost of something has gone up. My spouse and I both work full time and make decent money and what cost us between $100 - $150 every 2 weeks for the basic staples, not including meat/fish at a supermarket now costs us over $200 and we don't have children yet to think about. The price of oil is outrageous and they say this is why we are paying more - because the cost of shipping is going up. Well, why can't wages go up? Wages do not reflect the constant changes in the economy - meaning the constant raise in the price of gas and food. I don't know why there can't be some kind of regulation on the cost of some items that people can't go without, like milk for example. I really don't know where it is all going to end up.

  • Shawna
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    It is ridiculous.... Soon people are not going to be able to afford to eat because the price of everything is on the rise and I notice it now on a regular basis when I get groceries. What use to cost you like $150-200 before is costing you almost $300. Times are getting tough and soon you will see alot more people using food banks. Something needs to be done!!!!!!!!

  • greg
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    It's time to cut the locel dairy producers loose once and foir all. They've had a free ride in the provinvce without any oppostion on this pretectionism. Time to put this sacred cow out to pasture and let them sink or swim in the free markets.

  • K
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    People think this is about oil, or the Milk Marketing Board? Please... its about the planet not be able to feed 6.6 BILLION people. You think prices are high now? Wait 30-40 years when the population is expected to reach 9 Billion. Bread and rice then will be a luxury few can afford. God help us......

  • frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    Yeah here in Smithers bc the price of a 2litre of milk is also 3.75. The product has to be transferred by truck 1100km from either Calgary or Vancouver. People in my home province are being ripped off big time on the most basic food staple. A more affordable milk price would make it more easier for working and poorer families to recieve a greater degree of nutriction. Such would be a important first step in building strong minds in our youth for example. I guess Danny has more important things to worry about like fed bashing

  • Topcat
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    It's gonna get to the point where we will have to go back to the land to sustain ourselves. The ever-increasing financial, and environmental, cost of using fuel will leave us no other alternative. A lot of goods and services depend on a viable transportation source to make it's way to market. The cost of this mode of transportation is magnified greatly when you live on an island.

    We'll have to go back to using both local and renewable resources to clothe, house, heat, and feed us. From an environomentally point of view, it is a sound practice.

    One advantage of living in Newfoundland is the resources this island holds to sustain life. We have plenty sources of food, both marine and land based, which, if we manage correctly will last us forever.

    The seal hunt is not looking so bad after all.

  • not surprised
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    No one should be the slightest surprised by this revelation.. The main reason for this is a slippery black substance called oil even though there are other factors to consider..
    When I was a kid in school one of the things we learned was supply and demand(economics). You need oil for production, costs increase for the farmer, passed to the broker, passed to the wholesaler, passed to the retailer to the consumer... No surprise here. Every time products are passed from one to another each has to increase the cost to make a profit(that's why if you buy from the farmer or producer it costs less). All this leads to a revolving circle of price increase and wage increase and so on and on.. Interesting enough the minimum wage has increased by the cost of a loaf of bread --- which still puts the deprived under thumb.....Think of all the good groceries you can buy for an hour's labour of $8.00 -- and you haven't paid your bills yet..As long as government sees fit to reap the benefits of high oil prices you will never see a change in the cost of commodities.. Simple. Some will argue to the contrary.....Even with a high Canadian dollar, imported products cost more -- go figure!

  • MP
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    I agree with you Topcat. The time is coming when we'll have no choice but to get back to some of the old ways, like cutting firewood and hauling it out with a horse, planting veggies, and keeping a few animals for milk and eggs. The wages are just not keeping up with the rising cost of living associated with the rising cost of oil.