Canadians celebrating holidays in December may have to consider swapping some of their favourite foods due to increased costs.
High inflation continues to impact the cost of living in Canada, which could lead some people to create new traditions or forgo some holiday items to lower their food bills.
According to Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, buying holiday foods this year will be an “expensive proposition.”
“There are several underlying issues at play here: adverse weather impacting growing and harvests, geopolitical events driving up the cost of energy, and labour disputes throughout the supply chain limiting supply,” a press release from the food lab reads.
Food costs since the pandemic have risen about 20 per cent, the lab says.
It’s not just the cost of food that could alter people’s holiday plans, however. The cost of living pinching Canadians’ pockets could impact how they splurge elsewhere too, the press release reads.
With costs rising, Sylvain Charlebois, the lab’s research director, said people will turn to other ways to make their holiday merry and bright.
“As Canadians face higher food prices this holiday season, many are exploring innovative ways to celebrate, emphasizing the spirit of togetherness and shared joy, regardless of the menu on the table,” Charlebois said in the press release.
Canadians making a meal of traditional turkey with vegetable side dishes and dessert for four to six people can expect to pay $104.85 on average, the lab’s data shows.
Items have risen in price to varying degrees, with turkey up 5 per cent, potatoes up 6.6 per cent and carrots up 12.8 per cent.
However, the lab points out that these big meals have a high upfront cost but could result in leftovers a few days later, lowering the overall per-person cost to about $9.48 each for the meal.
The food lab called it “a reasonable price to overindulge with those you love.”
Some holiday items and the increasing prices from Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.
Extras have their own per-serving breaking, like gravy at about $0.02, eggnog at $0.89 and cranberry sauce at $0.77.
Vegetables will be more expensive, with a predicted higher-end cost of onions at $3.79, celery at $4.49, parsnips at $6.49 and Brussels sprouts at $6.60.
The press release says some families could be establishing new traditions this year due to the cost of food.
“Ham, for example, will reduce the cost of the meal to roughly $7.79 (per serving?) on average,” the press release reads. “While the food may differ, the act of communal dining is the important aspect of these traditions, not the turkey itself.”
Jewish communities will be celebrating Dec. 7 to Dec. 15 this year and some traditional foods like potato latkes are likely to cost more.
According to Statistics Canada data from October 2023, potatoes have decreased 4.1 per cent in price since September but are still pricey with a 7.1 per cent year-over-year rate of inflation.
The fried pancakes require oil, which has seen a 14 per cent year-over-year increase. Popular toppings for latkes include applesauce — a 4.9 per cent increase since last October — and sour cream, a dairy-based product that has risen by 3.5 per cent.
Sufganiyot (jelly donuts) could also be impacted this year because of a sugar shortage in Canada.
The jelly-filled donuts could be less sweet because of an ongoing strike at Western Canada’s largest sugar refinery. Grocery stores are rationing the product, making it harder for consumers to find.
Sugar has also seen a price increase of 7.2 per cent year-over-year, making the commodity a potential splurge for some families.
A traditional Sabbath food is kugel, a noodle pudding, and could be a sticker shock expense for some households.
Pasta products, according to StatCan data, have been on the rise since September, costing year-over-year 10.5 per cent more.
Eggs are needed to bind the noodle dish together, and the price of those has come down over the last few years to a 1.9 per cent year-over-year rate.
A feast that falls on the sixth day of Kwanzaa, called Karamu, could be costly for Canada’s African-Caribbean communities.
Typically a cheaper starch, rice and rice-based mixes will cost Canadians 6.9 per cent more this holiday season.
Different prices for protein for holiday meals from the Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.
Per kilogram, veggies like squash have risen from $3.12 to $3.49 since October 2022. A similar rise in price has been seen for sweet potatoes, from $3.28 to $4.03 per kilogram, StatCan data reads.
Protein options for Kwanzaa have also increased, with dry beans and legumes (per 900 grams) increasing from $3.38 to $3.52.
Bread rolls, a common side dish, have also increased in price, StatCan says. Year-over-year, bread, rolls and buns have risen 5.3 per cent in price along with other bakery products like cookies at 9.3 per cent.
“Amidst the rising cost of holiday meals, with some creativity, Canadians are redefining traditions, prioritizing the joy of communal dining with loved ones over the specific dishes on the table,” Janet Music, Research Program Coordinator at Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab, said in a press release.
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