A loose pile of Canadian bills and change

How Expensive is Our Food?

Not that expensive!

Canadians enjoy a relatively inexpensive food supply. In 2006, Canadian households spent an average of $135.50 per week on food. The 2011 census showed a modest increase to $149.90 per week per household.18

Although food prices have increased slightly since the last census, efficiencies across the agrifood system have helped keep costs low. For example, crop protection products help farmers minimize damage from pests and disease; biotechnologist and traditional plant breeders are developing crops that are drought resistant; and manufacturing companies are using lighter or less packaging to reduce production and transportation costs.

Around the world, food makes up a large portion of consumer spending. However, the percentage in Canada is relatively low compared to other countries:

Source: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-expenditures.aspx#.U5X2e5RdXNr

What about organic food?

Organic food and beverage products tend to cost more than conventional products. Consumers generally pay a premium of about 10-20 per cent for organic food. This increased cost can be a result of the need for more labour in production (e.g. hand weeding of vegetables) and distribution (e.g. the need to keep organic products separate from conventional in a store or restaurant). Lower yields may also affect price. On average, organic crops produce 25 per cent less per acre than conventional crops. Additionally, certified organic foods require auditing by a third-party organization. This costs money and the added expense may be reflected in the cost of the food.

Fast Fact:

Food costs Coast to Coast: In terms of average weekly household spending on food, Prince Edward Island was the lowest at $138.10 while Alberta had the highest at $163.69 in 2011.21