The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has calculated that the average Canadian had earned enough income by Feb. 9 to pay for their grocery bill for the entire year.
This is known as Food Freedom Day.
Canadians were expected to have spent 11 percent of their disposable income on food last year, compared to 10.4 percent in 2014.
While rising food costs resulted in this year’s Food Freedom Day occurring three days later than last year’s date, it’s important to note that we are quite fortunate in Canada compared to other parts of the world.
Canadians enjoy some of the lowest food costs in the world, consistently ranking in the top five for cheapest food costs worldwide.
Still, there is no denying that the rise in food costs has the potential to affect day-to-day budgets.
The Food Price Report, which the University of Guelph’s Food Institute published following a comprehensive study of Canadian food costs, found that food prices increased by 4.1 percent last year.
The prime reason was the low Canadian dollar, which has had a profound impact on imported food products, particularly fruit, vegetables and nuts, which are highly susceptible to market fluctuations.
Looking ahead to this year, the Food Price Report said that food prices are expected to be most affected by climate change, the weakening Canadian dollar, and consumer trends.
With this forecast in mind, Food Freedom Day serves as an opportunity to consider the effect that each of us has on the Canadian food system, whether that be as a consumer, farmer, processor or retailer.
“There are plenty of reasons why we encourage consumers to buy Canadian,” said CFA president Ron Bonnett.
“Domestically produced food does not face the same exchange rate increase we have been seeing with imported products. By un-derstanding the Canadian products that are available each season, consumers can contribute to Canada’s food security while also keeping their family’s food bill down.”
Choosing Canadian products at the grocery store is an incredibly important role that Canadian consumers can play in supporting farmers and our food system here at home.
Consumers’ grocery store purchases provide market data for retailers, who then determine what products will fill their shelves. This produces a ripple effect that is felt right down to the farm level.
“There is also a notable difference with the Canadian brand when it comes to animal welfare standards and the quality and safety of our products, and it is one to be proud of,” Bonnett said.
“We ask that consumers place their ‘grocery store vote’ for Canadian farmers and invest in a stable domestic food supply.”
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture is the country’s largest national general farm organization.