By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Inflation will continue to eat away at Canadian wallets as the average grocery bill for a family of four will top CAN$16,000 ($11,900) annually in 2023, according to a new report released Monday.
That is up more than CAN$1,000 ($740) from 2022, with inflation forecasted to reach as high as 7% in the new year. But prices rose more than predicted in 2022, and costs could go even higher in 2023.
"Last year, we were predicting prices to go up by as much as 7% and many, many claimed that those predictions were alarmist," said Dalhousie University's Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food nutrition and lead author of the 2023 Food Price Report. "Yet here we are at 10%."
Being single will be expensive, too, when it comes to the grocery bill. A single woman in her 40s will spend about $3,740 on groceries, and a single man in that age group $4,168.
The report said various factors will also continue to affect food prices, including world conflicts, climate change, rising energy costs, COVID-19, and fluctuating currency values.
The loonie's -- Canadian dollar -- losses against the US currency mean higher produce prices because, during Canada's biting winter, much of the produce in the country is imported from its southern neighbor and Latin America. Costs of produce from other warm-climate countries are measured in American currency.
"The produce section is going to be the wild card," Charlebois said. "Currency is one of the key things that could throw things off early in the winter and that's why produce is the highest category."
Yet Charlebois said there is hope to cling to for the future.
"When you look at the current food inflation cycle we're in right now, we're probably in the seventh-inning stretch," he said in an interview with CTV News. "The first part of 2023 will remain challenging ... but we're starting to see the end of this."