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Small savings perhaps in store for go-to foods

Consumers will get a small break at the supermarket next year, mainly because of greater competition, University of Guelph researchers are predicting.

While food prices overall are expected to increase marginally next year, prices for staples such as cheese, eggs, milk and frozen vegetables might even decrease, according to the Food Price Index, an annual look at Canadian retail food prices, including restaurant prices.

“The Canadian retail market saw very significant changes in 2013,” said Prof. Sylvain Charlebois, the lead author of the index. For example, Target’s entry to Canada in early 2013 led retailers such as Wal-Mart and Loblaws to keep prices down, Charlebois, the associate dean of research and graduate studies in the U of G’s College of Management and Economics, said in a news release.

Overall, the researchers predict general food expenditures in Canada will increase by between 0.3 and 2.6 per cent in 2014.

Only fish and seafood prices are expected to rise more quickly – by between 3 and 5 per cent.

“Much of the inflated prices are due to consumer demand for more healthier and ethical products,” said Charlebois.

Consumers and retailers are pressing fisheries to adopt sustainable practices.

“We expect the impact of scarcity and responsibility will lead to higher prices for consumers,” he said.

Predicted 2014 price changes:
• Meat: up 0.6% to 2.1%
• Dairy, eggs: down 0.6% to 1.5%
• Grains: up 0.2% to 2%
• Fruit, nuts: up 0.6% to 1.2%
• Vegetables: up 1.4% to 2.1%.

Restaurant food prices are expected to increase by no more than 2%, the researchers predict.

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