Produce prices have gone mad

Maureen Coulter
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Marlene Bryenton of Charlottetown loads her groceries for the week into her car at Sobeys recently. Bryenton said her visit to the grocery store cost more than she expected.

Chris Stewart of Fort Augustus has noticed his dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to when buying fresh produce at the grocery stores in Prince Edward Island this year.

“My vegetable prices have gone up a lot, and that is pretty important to me because I’m a vegetarian, so when those prices change it impacts my food budget a lot.”

Stewart said because of these high prices, he has made some minor modifications in his diet by buying more frozen food and in-season items like root vegetables.

“Cauliflower has gone mad, that’s for sure,” laughed Stewart,” I won’t buy that for seven or eight dollars, which is too bad because there are a lot of great dishes you can make with that.”

Jim Cormier, director of the Atlantic Canada division for the Retail Council of Canada, said the falling Canadian dollar and poor weather in crop-growing areas are creating some very challenging circumstances for the retail sector and for consumers.

“In the dead of winter, people want their fresh produce, and the only way to get that is to bring (it) in from countries that have a 12-month-a-year growing season.”

Claude Tessier, president of Sobeys Quebec, told The Canadian Press that flooding caused by El-Nino has caused supply shortages and higher prices on Mexican and Californian produce. As a result, Canadians should expect high prices for their produce for at least several more weeks.

Stewart said these high prices will certainly impact the health of Islanders, as it will be more difficult to eat fresh and healthy.

“It’s harder to make that grocery budget fit and still pick up the fruits and vegetables you need to be healthy.”

This is also something Marlene Bryenton of Charlottetown is worried about as many Islanders are already struggling to put food on the table.

Bryenton, who said her visit to the grocery store cost more than she expected, is noticing things like beef, cauliflower, broccoli and peppers are taking a spike.

Bryenton said high food costs will impact not just lower-income families but middle-income families as well. She feels more people will be forced into using food banks and soup kitchens.

“It’s going to have a real reflection on what these families are going to be able to do in the future.”

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Recent comments

  • Wendy Grant
    January 21, 2016 - 17:47

    It does not matter what the store has to pay to get the produce, the sad part is it will rot on the shelves because we can't afford to buy it. So everyone loses

  • Big D
    January 20, 2016 - 13:01

    Sobey's now weighs down their pre-made salads with cheap cabbage to save from using too much expensive lettuce.

  • enough already
    January 20, 2016 - 11:28

    Please tell me who the butcher is .

  • Quiet Observer
    January 20, 2016 - 10:39

    Buy frozen, Canadian veggies from Cavendish Farms or McCains. Still cheap and just as nutritious. If consumer demand for fresh produce goes down because people buy frozen, then the price will come down too. Stores/wholesalers will sooner drop their prices than have their fresh produce rot in the store or warehouse. This is a great time to buy Canadian for everything where available as it will be cheaper, and will create more jobs in Canada.

  • James
    January 20, 2016 - 10:07

    Unfortunately this is just the start of inflation due to weak dollar and low oil prices. It's going to get worse before it gets better

    • Jim
      January 20, 2016 - 17:44

      We have record low inflation because of the low oil prices. If we had high oil prices, we'd have commensurately high inflation. You can't win.

  • Jimmy Buffet
    January 20, 2016 - 09:47

    Canadian think tank says this will add $345 to the average families yearly food bill . However this puts Canada in a position like Japan was called out for by the USA 30 years ago . They said the yen was so low it was unfair and Japanese products were underselling good ole American electronics and what not . I get paid in Canadian dollars and spend them in Canada , come buy my widgets America ! I will need to employ more widget makers .

  • CBuell
    January 20, 2016 - 08:15

    I have been buying frozen and canned vegetables.And the cheapest fruit in season, mainly apples,oranges and bananas.I am still fortunate to have a diet much better than many in suffering countries.

  • mad as hell
    January 20, 2016 - 07:24

    Another tip is to buy meat at a butcher. I regularly pay HALF of Sobey's SALE price for my meat at a butcher. That is a huge saving over the year.

    • lenticular_clouds
      January 20, 2016 - 13:38

      Would you mind disclosing the name of your butcher? I would be very interested in paying HALF of Sobey's SALE price for my meat at a butcher.