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Low-income families most likely to be affected by rising food prices and supply chain issues

Consumer can expect to have less choice in grocery stores, but supply chain issues are not a crisis, experts say

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Families in need will be hit the hardest, as consumers face rising grocery prices caused by supply chain issues, according to Quest Food Exchange.

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The Exchange is a donation-based grocery store selling food at low cost to those in need.

“The situation is dire,” said Executive Director Theodora Lamb, who was first alerted to the shortages a few months ago when Quest began stocking up on food in advance for holiday orders. .

Quest supports 250,000 marginalized families in the Lower Mainland and orders an average of 1,000 baby turkeys for the holiday season.

“Not only had the cost gone up, but we learned there wouldn’t be enough, Lamb said.

The cost of basic commodities, such as eggs, has also risen sharply.

“I suspect that over the next one to two months more shortages will start to emerge. The cost of food will be the story of 2022, ”Lamb said.

Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University and author of the Food Prices in Canada Report, predicted a five percent increase in the annual cost of food for a family of four in 2021, or around $ 695 from 2020, and said the world’s supply chain bottlenecks are not the only factor contributing to inflation.

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“What concerns me are energy costs – we are slowly treading towards oil hitting US $ 100 a barrel by the holidays. If you look at the prices of oil, it gets more and more expensive, so onshore logistics could become an issue driving up prices, ”Charlebois said.

Charlebois said global supply chains are feeling the impact of the pandemic, and although food supply chains remain “robust” in Canada, “they are just slower and a little less efficient.”

“We are restarting a global economy. The analogy I use is that it’s like steering a cruise ship with a paddle. But it’s not the Titanic, ”said Charlebois.

Charlebois said that North America benefits from producing much of its own food and has been successful in getting goods across land borders. What is less predictable is the flow of goods from countries like China and Vietnam that depend on shipping and where port closures due to COVID-19 outbreaks have affected container movements.

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“We can expect the occasional empty shelves and less variety for a while,” Charlebois said. “Consumers will have to adjust their expectations.

Michelle Wasylyshen, national spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, said there was a lot of food on Canadian store shelves. “Crimping the supply chain is not a crisis. If you see an empty shelf, don’t panic. It will be restocked.

Retailers have been bracing for supply chain issues since the start of the pandemic by increasing inventory, ordering earlier and diversifying suppliers, Wasylyshen said.

That may not be enough to reassure Canadians who care about providing for their families. A new Angus Reid Institute poll found that due to rising costs, 45 percent of Canadians say it is difficult or very difficult to feed their families, a figure that rises to 92 percent low-income households.

Quest’s Lamb said that while some families will be able to adjust, others will not.

“Food becomes a lot more discretionary when rent and heating have to be a priority and what we see is nutritional food, healthy and organic products, all of that are put aside until those first two needs are. satisfied, ”Lamb said.

“Taking care of our own households always comes first, but I hope people will think about those who are most vulnerable and consider contributing to Quest or their local food banks. “

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