Nfld. & Labrador

Drink milk, drain wallet: St. John's most expensive city to chug 2%

A new survey looking at the cost of two per cent milk in 17 cities across Canada has found the price difference to be anything but homogenized.

Windsor, Ont. found to have the cheapest average cost of milk in Canada

Jeff Doucette from Field Agent Canada, says St. John's has the highest prices 3:50

A new survey looking at the cost of two per cent milk in 17 cities across Canada has found the price difference to be anything but homogenized.

St. John's was found to be the most expensive milk market, with a two-litre carton of 2% milk cost an average of $3.92. That's exactly twice as much as what customers in Scarborough can expect to pay. 

A new smartphone app by Field Agent Canada helped to collect data on the range of milk prices across Canada (CBC)

Windsor, Ont., was found to have the cheapest recorded cost of milk in the country, costing about $3.65 for four litres.

"The general trend is that Newfoundlanders pay about double what residents in Ontario are paying for the same milk product," said Jeff Doucette, general manager of Field Agent Canada, a company that sells a crowdsourcing app that was used to collect data at stores across the country.  The company released its survey Monday. 

Doucette said that the milk industry in Canada is highly regulated "to make sure the dairy farmers in every province are able to produce sustainably."

In St. John's, Doucette said, there is a smaller market for milk when compared to larger cities, particularly in southern Ontario.

"There is a mix of those factors, of package size, government regulations, and then a lack, or less competition at both the retailer level as well as at the dairy level," he said.

Calling for Canada-wide milk-cost strategy

Doucette — who recently moved to Newfoundland from Alberta, and said he goes through a lot of milk as the father of two young children  — is calling for a Canada-wide milk strategy.

"I think it is really interesting that we can buy the same bottle of Pepsi or Coke right across the country for about the same price. I was in a store the other day and it was 4 [bottles of cola] for $6 so $1.50 for 2 litres," Doucette said.

"Now manufacturing soda is a little bit simpler than farming and what it takes to get milk to market, but when you have such a huge price discrepancy [it makes you wonder]."

Doucette said just behind St. John's for milk prices are cities in the Maritimes and Quebec rounding out the cost for the top three most expensive cities for milk drinkers.

Data were collected from 175 stores in 17 markets.

In an interview with CBC's Radio Noon, Doucette acknowledged that rural areas, including communities on Labrador's northern coast, were not included in the study. That prompted this tweet showing that the price of two litres of milk in Nain costs $6.79.

"We'd love to hear from some of the people from rural [areas]," Doucette said.

Field Agent Canada collected the data from app  users across Canada, who each collected data while out shopping for milk. Field Agent Canada tsells the data that it collects from such surveys to other companies. 

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