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Published on April 11, 2011 | by nauman     Photography by


Rising food prices emptying students’ wallets


The cost of common food items has been increasing since August. Photo by Joelle Berlet

For students already on a tight budget, it may come as a surprise that the cost of basic food items has been rising steadily for the past eight months.

According to CBC, cereal prices  are up 70 per cent, and sugar reached a 30-year high in Nov., up 16 per cent since the summer. Dairy products like milk and butter are up 17 per cent.

The high price of oil raises both production and transportation costs of food items, which translates into increased grocery prices for the consumer.

Tomatoes are one item experiencing the biggest price hike at about 20 per cent more than they cost at this time last year. Extreme frost in Florida earlier this winter was also a contributing factor, destroying more than half of the tomato crops and resulting in a shortage across the country.

Emma Thompson, a Ryerson student, says the rising price of food has noticeably affected her grocery shopping habits.
“I’m suddenly far more price sensitive. When I go to the grocery store, I have staples [of food], so I immediately notice when they go up in price,” she explains. “I think I’m an incredibly healthy eater and if I didn’t buy something, that would be literally cutting [it] out of my diet.”

Economists say the overall cost of food in Canada could rise up to 8 per cent in the coming months, with breads, grains, and cereals experiencing the biggest price jump.

“Because the price of bread has gone up, I’ve become a little bit more concerned of how much of it I eat,” says Emma.
Analysts explain the cost of meat is also prone to rising as livestock consume the same grains. The United Nations reports that average global food prices have increased by 40% since last June, and it takes about a year for international food prices to translate into higher prices in Canada.

Luckily for students, some restaurants are willing to do what it takes to keep the customers coming in. Nino Casale of Il Paesano, a family-owned pizza joint in Toronto, says he avoids raising menu prices despite higher tomato costs.

“We absorb the cost and maintain the price,” he explains, helping Il Paesano stay competitive by providing customers with affordable prices. Nino says despite fluctuating food costs in the past, the restaurant will continue to sustain its dependability.

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