Although Canadian grocery prices are rising at the fastest pace in more than 40 years, bananas are still cheap.
According to Statistics Canada, average retail prices for bananas in July 2022 remained relatively flat compared to the past few months. At $1.68 per kilogram, bananas are one of the few fruits that are still affordable for many families.
Global market demand has helped keep banana prices stable.
“Bananas are served by a very vertically integrated supply chain, so you have growers supported by multinational companies,” Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agro-Food Analytics Laboratory at Dalhousie University, said in an interview with CTVNews.ca.
Since bananas grow in equatorial countries such as Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Asia, bananas do not have a specific growing season and bloom throughout the year.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, banana numbers around the world have risen dramatically since 2000.
Data from the organization shows that banana production grew at a compound annual rate of 3.2 percent from 2000 to 2017, from 67 million tons to 114 million tons.
The additional supply allows bananas to remain at a fixed price even though other products suffer in volatile markets.
The fruit is also considered a “loss leader,” which means it will be priced low to keep consumers coming back.
“It wasn’t affected by this anti-plastic action, because the peel is very compostable,” Charlebois said. He predicted that prices for plastic-wrapped products, such as berries, would continue to rise as the federal government cracked down on single-use plastics.
Combined with the devaluation of looney and rapidly approaching winter, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and bakery products are increasing out of season.
“We expect the prices of more dairy products to rise as the fall comes,” Charleboa said. “Products and vegetables in particular, they’ve really gone up compared to last year.”
The Canadian dollar fell to a two-year low against the US dollar. As this continues, imported items will cost consumers more.
The CPI in August 2022 rose 10.8 percent, the fastest pace since 1981. On an annual basis, fresh fruit rose 13.2 percent but bananas remained low.
Statistics Canada shows in August that the cost of bananas rose 3 per cent, with other fruits such as apples and oranges up 11.8 per cent and 18.5 per cent each.
Other items worth adding to the grocery list include tofu, which is made locally for the Canadian market. Charlebois said the high-protein vegan product has only grown slightly in the last 15 to 20 years.
The Made in Canada supply chain helps keep tofu prices consistent and is not often affected by climate-related fluctuations.
“A lot of things can happen in relation to livestock, and the production cycle is more complicated,” Charlebois said.
Recently, the emergence of baked goods has surprised Charlebois and consumers.
Statistics Canada shows that bakery products rose 13.6 percent year on year, due to increased wheat prices.
Making products from scratch is less expensive than buying them in a store. Charlebois says expensive ingredients like butter and eggs are one reason why pastries, bread and rolls are so expensive.
According to the Consumer Price Index, the price of flour rose 23.5 percent in August year-on-year, but the initial price was very low, which means it is still relatively affordable.
“The flour is stable,” Charlebois said.
In order to keep bills low, Canadians have invested in deep freezers to save food.
New data: In the last 12 months…
11.9% of Canadians have renovated their kitchen.
23.6% bought an air fryer for the first time.
7.7% bought a deep freezer for the first time.
Food Professor (@FoodProfessor) September 19, 2022
“I would say I visit the freezer aisle quite often,” Charlebois said. “Because you can virtually control the flow of the supply chain, you can basically get all the nutrients you need at harvest, but you can actually sell your product at any time.”