Ben Klassen has been a butcher in Prince George for sixty years. Usually beef is his most popular item in the cooler. But as of late he says people are opting for other products and that’s for one reason.
“Beef has actually doubled since a year ago and that has really made quite a difference. It’s very difficult when you’ve got to double your prices and of course you can’t really quite double your prices because it’s too big a shock for people. ”
Last year alone food prices in Canada increased 4.1 per cent. Causes for the increase include the drought in California as well as the weak Canadian dollar.
Local economist Al Idiens explains why the weak dollar means a more expensive grocery bill.
“Much of our food that we import is from the United States. A couple of years ago the Canadian dollar was running around 90 cents for a dollar. Now it’s running around 72 cents. What that means short run is that food coming from the United States is going to cost us 25 per cent more.”
While meat can be sourced locally, Idiens says external factors continue to drive up the price.
“You’d think locally produced Canadian beef and so on would be cheap. But that good U.S. purchasing power down there is buying up a lot of the beef which means the price of that is going up. The price of bacon’s going up because it’s all selling well in the states for the same reason, low dollar.”
According to the University of Guelph’s annual Food Price Report, the average Canadian household will spend $8,631 on food in 2016. That’s an increase of $345 compared to last year.
Meat is not the only item going up in price. Consumers are paying more for fruits, nuts, and vegetables. And they’re starting to feel the strain on their wallets.
Ultimately, paying more to put food on the table is becoming a fact of life. Klassen says customers are still coming to shop, they’re just changing their habits.
“They’re buying less beef and they’re buying other products that are available and still affordable.”
Klassen saying he’s still busy, now he’s just serving up different cuts of meat.