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Food prices far outpace consumer price index

Claire Renouf of Sanagan's Meat Locker, works at the store’s Kensington Market location, in Toronto, May 17, 2013.

Brett Gundlock/The Globe and Mail

Over the past five years, food prices have risen at nearly double the rate of the rest of the items used to calculate the consumer price index, according to an analysis by Statistics Canada.

While the price of the items, excluding food, went up by a cumulative 10.7 per cent during that time period, food prices went up 19 per cent.

Even the economic crash didn't slow the pace – while most other items became cheaper between October, 2008, and January, 2009 – food prices continued to rise, both in Canada and around the world. Between 2007 and 2008 international food prices increased by 58 per cent. Of the 39 countries the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development tracked between 2007 and 2012 the majority, 24 countries, saw food prices go up greater rate than overall inflation.

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Prices rose across all categories, the Statscan report shows: Meat saw an 18-per-cent increase over the five years, the cost of eggs rose 25.8 per cent, nuts increased by 32.6 per cent, while coffee and tea grew by 26.8 per cent. The cost of fresh vegetables rose 12.6 per cent, but seafood only increased by 5.7 per cent. Food purchased from restaurants increased 14.5 per cent.

According to a food price researcher, prices aren't likely to cool off any time soon. Sylvain Charlebois, a University of Guelph professor, and author of an annual report on food prices, says his research suggests costs will increase between 1.5 and 3.5 per cent for all food categories combined this year. But the price of meat it said would grow much more, at 4.5 to 6.5 per cent, just in time for barbecue season.

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