Canadian consumers hit by higher food prices as inflation rose at fastest pace since 1991

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      Canadians paid more for food and a lot of other things in 2021 as inflation rose.

      A report by Statistics Canada states that the Consumer Price Index, which measures changes in prices of goods and services, climbed on an annual average of 3.4 percent last year.

      The federal agency noted that this was the “fastest pace” of inflation since 1991, when the CPI in that year rose 5.6 percent.

      In a report Wednesday (January 19), Statistics Canada said that prices of goods increased 4.7 percent in 2021.

      As an example, Canadian motorists paid 31.2 percent more at the pump, with gasoline prices rising at the fastest pace since 1981 at 36.1 percent.

      Meanwhile, prices for services rose 2.3 percent.

      To illustrate, personal care services, including haircuts, cost 5.4 percent more last year.

      “Canadian consumers were confronted with higher prices in 2021, including for everyday necessities, such as food (+2.5%), transportation (+7.2%) and shelter (+3.9%),” Statistics Canada reported.

      Canadians who bought groceries paid 2.2 percent more in 2021.

      “Prices for important breakfast items increased in 2021: prices for eggs (+6.3%), bacon (+12.5%), bread, rolls and buns (+0.6%), and fresh fruit (+2.6%) were all higher in 2021,” Statistics Canada stated.

      Annual average dairy product prices rose 2.8 percent in 2021.

      Margarine prices were up 7.4 percent.

      “Foods commonly seen at the dinner table became more expensive for Canadians, while other food prices declined compared with a year earlier,” Statistics Canada reported.

      Meat prices rose 4.3 percent in 2021.

      Statistics Canada noted that the increase in meat prices last year followed a 4.5 percent increase in 2020, “when COVID-19-induced temporary plant closures pushed meat prices up in the summer of 2020”.

      “Labour shortages, production challenges, and higher input and transportation costs, coupled with strong demand for meat in North America, contributed to the price increase in 2021,” the federal agency stated.

      Meanwhile, prices for seafood and other marine products rose 3.4 percent.

      It wasn’t news for consumers who love vegetables.

      “By contrast,” Statistics Canada reported, “Canadians saved on fresh vegetables, as prices decreased 2.6% in 2021.”

      For example, prices of tomatoes fell 19.5 percent “amid favourable conditions in growing regions and abundant supply”.

      Meanwhile, lettuce prices declined 1.8 percent in 2021.

      For those eating out, prices for food purchased from restaurants rose 3.1 percent last year.

      Statistics Canada explained that the COVID-19 pandemic was a “key factor impacting the prices of goods and services”.

      “Inflationary pressures stemmed from a combination of widespread global supply chain constraints and pent-up consumer demand as the economy reopened,” the agency reported.