Halifax Superstores warn of short supply due to weather, dollar
Grocery bills likely will go up in 2016 due to vegetable and fruit prices, a report says
Some grocery stores around Halifax are warning customers they're having trouble supplying produce due to weather problems and the low Canadian dollar.
A sign posted in the produce section of a Halifax area Superstore apologized to customers for the inconvenience.
"Due to weather related issues in the growing regions coupled with the impact of U.S. exchange," the sign reads, "we are unfortunately experiencing significantly higher than normal costs and gaps in supply."
No one from Loblaw, the chain which owns Atlantic Superstore, was available to comment Saturday.
Dominion grocery stores, also owned by Loblaw, posted similar signs in Newfoundland this week.
Canada imports 81 per cent of its produce, much of that from the U.S., which has had variable weather and drought in the last year. That problem has been compounded by a sudden, severe drop of the Canadian dollar last winter, largely due to oil, the report said.
Consumers saw the price of fruit jump by 9.1 per cent and vegetables even more by 10.1, the report found.
Food prices 'steadily marching up'
Annette d'Eon picked up a few groceries at Quinpool Road's Superstore Saturday afternoon. Food prices she's seen have been "steadily marching up," she said.
"People sometimes think about climate change and think it doesn't have any effect on us or that if it does, it will just mean we'll have warmer winters," d'Eon said.
"But the actual result is it's storms and drought and extreme weather — and it would have an effect on our pocketbooks, as well, in many ways including food."
D'Eon didn't notice unusually high prices at the Superstore, such as the head of cauliflower selling for $6.99 or $8.49 for organic.
"I'm glad I wasn't looking for cauliflower," d'Eon said with a laugh. She normally buys seasonal, root vegetables in the winter, she said.
"I'm probably spending more of my budget on food, but I want to be able to eat good food, fresh food, so I just make more room for it in my budget."
Fruit and veggies will cost more: report
Buying healthy food may be harder for some families. The Guelph report predicts the average family's annual food bill could rise by $345 in 2016.
Fruit is predicted to cost between 2.5 and 4.5 per cent more, and vegetables between two and four per cent more in 2016.
Climate change remains the major cause of food price inflation, the report said.
El Nino, expected to be one of the strongest on record, could add to the unpredictability — or bring extra rain that could stabilize prices coming from the dry U.S., the report said.