Restaurant and grocery store owners are grappling with how to explain rising food prices to their customers.
Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canada's inflation rate is now at its highest level in more than a year due to higher prices for food, shelter and transportation.
The price of fresh fruit and vegetables in particular, most of them imported from the U.S., has increased 13.3 per cent. Overall, Canadians paid 3.7 per cent more for food last month than they did in the same month a year earlier.
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"For the past two or three weeks the price of, especially the leaf lettuces and fruits like grapes, those things — they went up at about 10 to 20 per cent at least," said Tom Chen, assistant manager at Kin's Market.
Produce merchants are telling customers not to expect a break on prices for at least another three months, until B.C. farmers can start to grow and harvest local crops.
"Yes, it's a little bit expensive. But our customers, sometimes they are nagging, complaining about that. We try to describe what happened," said Mousa Jafarbeiglou with Ayoub's Dried Fruit and Nuts.
His store has posted signs warning customers about the price increases. Some of them have reluctantly accepted the rising price tags.
"I may grumble a little bit, but it hasn't changed you know the way I shop," said customer Victoria Goldner. "It just changes my feelings about shopping."
Restaurants struggling too
But restaurant owners say some customers haven't made the connection between the cost of produce and the price tag of their favourite menu items.
"Other day, the guest call me. He just want only cauliflower, no potatoes. Can you imagine that?" said Indian Kitchen owner Kamal Maroke.
"So, I told him we will charge $5 extra. He start yelling and screaming. He say why $5 extra this and that. You know, I said, sir, the price is so expensive."
Maroke said the price of trendy cauliflower in particular — a prevalent vegetable in many Indian dishes — has taken such a a big bite out of his budget. he's had to take it off his lunch buffet.
"The cauliflower is a signature item. Any restaurant you go, first thing they look at — 'Oh, you have cauliflowers."
And although the price of cauliflower has dipped somewhat, Maroke said his suppliers delivered a grim message.
"From next week our price are going more up. I said why? He said because our dollar going down and we buying product in U.S. dollars."