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When inflation was making food a lot more expensive

The price of groceries and consumer goods had climbed by 12.5 per cent in a year at the start of 1982.

Prices had gone up 11.4 per cent at the grocery store in a year in 1982

High inflation in 1982

Digital Archives

39 years ago
1:45
A CBC reporter takes a trip to the grocery store to discuss price increases that contribute to an escalated rate of inflation. 1:45

The price of groceries and consumer goods had climbed by 12.5 per cent in a year at the start of 1982 — a level that had not been seen in 33 years.

"Canadians are about to feel a whirlwind of inflation," said Knowlton Nash, host of CBC's The National on Jan. 19, 1982, shortly after the program moved to a new 10 p.m. time slot. 

In a report that night, the CBC's David Burt visited a Toronto grocery store to survey the food situation and the camera showed a cashier manually punching in the price from each item on her conveyor belt.

"Food is certainly no bargain," said Burt, acknowledging that the cost of it had fallen the previous December for the fourth consecutive month.

Price war offered relief

At 11.4 per cent, the price of food grew by a smaller margin than the price of consumer goods at 12.8 per cent. (The National/CBC Archives)

Still, prices were up 11.4 per cent during 1981 — and high as that was, it was less than the inflation rate for consumer goods, which had climbed by 12.8 per cent. 

Burt said "a supermarket price war" in Ontario had helped to keep prices down, and he singled out Miracle Food Mart for having sparked that war.

"Other major food chains fought back with low prices of their own," he explained. "And the consumer — for once — got a break." 

Canadians outside Ontario had benefited from lower beef and pork prices.

But that was the extent of lower food prices, said Burt, as a grocery store worker was seen using a pricing gun to label bags of apples.

He predicted that due to a frost in Florida, tomatoes would soon "double" in cost.

"There's little doubt that filling the family fridge will be more expensive in 1982," he concluded.

The price of fruits and vegetables from Florida was expected to "soar" due to frost in January 1982. (The National/CBC Archives)

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