Various vegetables on display

Canadian families can expect to fork out $487 more on food this year. Rising meat, produce and seafood prices are to blame, according to the 2020 Canada’s Food Price Report.

Released today, the 10th annual report provides a price forecast for eight food categories and is a joint project between the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute (AFI) and Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

This report was covered by media across Canada including the Globe and Mail, CTV, BNN, Toronto Star and CBC.

The average Canadian household total grocery bill will rise to $12,667.

The expected cost increase results from meat prices going up by as much as six per cent, and produce and seafood prices by about four per cent.

a photo of Prof. Simon Somogyi
Prof. Simon Somogyi

“If U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign focuses heavily on Mexico border protection, this may result in even more costly fruit and vegetables for Canadians,” said Prof. Simon Somogyi, U of G’s project lead for the report and the holder of the AFI Chair in the Business of Food.

“We get a large amount of our fruit and vegetables from the U.S. and Mexico, and delays at the border crossing can lead to empty grocery store shelves.”

The overall projected national price jump is two to four per cent – slightly higher than last year’s 1.5 to 3.5 per cent.

“When rates increase quickly, families can be left behind,” said lead author and Dalhousie project lead Sylvain Charlebois, scientific director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab. “Vegetables are a perfect example. Canada’s new Food Guide is encouraging Canadians to eat more vegetables, but they’re getting more expensive.”

2020 Food Price Forecasts
Food Categories Anticipated Changes (%)
Bakery 0% – 2%
Dairy 1% – 3%
Fruits 1.5% – 3.5%
Meat 4% – 6%
Other 0% – 2%
Restaurants 2% – 4%
Seafood 2% – 4%
Vegetables 2% – 4%
Total Increase in Food Prices 2% – 4%

The predicted four-per-cent jump for produce is in addition to a 12-per-cent hike that occurred during the past 12 months.

Extreme weather, food recalls and the tightening of the border between U.S. and Mexico are all contributing to skyrocketing produce prices, said Somogyi.

“We are a food importing country,” he said. “From November to May, our weather is too cold to grow vegetables in the traditional way.”

One solution is subsidizing the cost of indoor farming and funding research on vegetable breeds that grow well in those conditions, he added.

“This would allow us to produce more local vegetables, cut down on logistics costs and improve farm food safety.”

Canadians will pay more for seafood and meat due to price increases and demand in global markets, he added.


Prof. Simon Somogyi