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Economy Lab

Sticker shock hits food-buying Canadians Add to ...

Food prices are rising at the quickest pace in nearly two years, a sign the food inflation flaring up around the world is also walloping Canadian consumers.

Food prices rose 4.3 per cent in June from a year ago, Statistics Canada figures showed Friday. That's the highest level since July, 2009, and a pickup from the 3.9-per-cent pace in May. While inflation cooled in virtually all areas of the consumer price index in June, food was the exception.

The gains are widespread -- meat prices are up 5.9 per cent, while bakery products have jumped 7.2 per cent with the cost of bread soaring 10.1 per cent. Prices for fresh vegetables have risen 8.4 per cent.

The rapid gains are on the Bank of Canada's radar. It noted last week that higher prices for food are weighing on consumer spending, and said pressure on food prices will last through the second half of this year.

Appetite is growing for more information on how Canadians are spending money on food. In a note Friday, Statscan said it is redesigning its survey of household spending to include a closer look at detailed food expenditures.

Last week's consumer price index showed prices for restaurant food advanced 3.3 per cent while prices for food purchased from stores rose 4.8 per cent.

In Ontario, food from stores is up 5.8 per cent.

Food is gobbling up a greater share of Canadians' wallets. Here are some examples of steep year-over-year food price increases:

Fresh or frozen beef: 9.2 per cent.

Eggs: 6.8 per cent.

Cereal: 4 per cent.

Flour: 12.2 per cent.

Potatoes: 25.8 per cent.

Lettuce: 16.5 per cent.

Coffee and tea: 11.8 per cent.

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