Ottawa

Other factors to blame for rising meat prices, experts say

While COVID-19 is undoubtedly taking a toll on the supply chain, climate change and the sliding Canadian dollar are also factors in the steep rise in meat prices.

Climate change, sliding Canadian dollar also factors

If you're wondering why beef and pork are suddenly costing you more, look beyond COVID-19, experts say. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

There are factors other than COVID-19 behind the dramatic rise in Canadian beef and pork prices, experts say.

At his butcher shop in Gatineau, Que., Alain Bisson said some cuts of steak have risen by as much as $5 or $6 in just a couple weeks.

Bisson's meat comes from Cargill, which has suffered outbreaks of the respiratory illness at its packing plants in Ontario, Quebec and especially southern Alberta.

Grocery chain Sobey's is also blaming higher prices on issues with the supply chain, including restrictions and even closures at processing plants due to coronavirus.

Gatineau butcher shop owner Alain Bisson says he’s noticed that steaks now cost $5 or $6 more than they did a few weeks ago, though customers appear to be understanding about the increase. 0:38

Back in December, the researchers behind the annual Canada's Food Price Report were already predicting a two to four per cent rise in grocery prices, with climate change as the main culprit.

Dalhousie University's Sylvain Charlebois, one of that report's lead authors, said in a French interview with Radio-Canada there are still other factors in play.

"We've been in an upward cycle since the start of the year. It's not just because of COVID-19," he said.

Charlebois noted beef and pork prices have gone up six to eight per cent since January, while fresh fruit and vegetables imported from the United States are also more expensive because of the drop in the Canadian dollar.

Many farmers who sell straight to consumers are seeing higher demand, said Stanley Christensen, president of cattle producer group producteurs de bovins Outaouais-Laurentides.

"All of a sudden everyone is interested in local products," he said in a French interview.

In April, many local farmers told CBC Ottawa they've also seen a boom in business, forcing some of them to limit orders for fear of running out of produce.

Among the few exceptions are specialty farmers — veal producers, for example — who sold direct to restaurants, since many of their clients are now closed.

Raphaël Morneau-Bérubé, owner of Gatineau's Traiteur Les Flavoureux catering service, said they may adapt their recipes rather than raising prices to compensate for more expensive meat.

With files from Radio-Canada's Dominique Degré, Ismaël Sy and Kim Vallière

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