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Food prices are rising — what are the causes, and how do university students manage?  

Julia Magsombol | November 18, 2022

If you ever visit your local grocery store, and you find yourself buying sales and not buying the foods you want — that’s totally normal and there’s nothing wrong with it. 

Based on Agri-Food Analytics Lab, food inflation is happening in Canada once again. Canada’s Food Price Report 2022, shows the complete report of Canada’s food prices and it concludes how the food inflation rate will keep happening. The inflation rate takes effect on different food categories like dairy, bakery, and vegetables. Deep dive also presented the increased price forecast last 2021. 

A range of the increased price forecast for dairy, bakery, and vegetables. Source: The Deep Dive and Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

This graph shows the increased price forecast for some of the main food of people like dairy, bakery, and vegetables. 

A comparison of the increased price forecast for dairy, bakery, and vegetables. Source: The Deep Dive and Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

The graph is similar to the first one, but it presents the maximum increased price for each food category. The prices here slowly surged over the last two years. 

Major Causes

There isn’t any specific cause for food inflation. Many global and domestic issues can actually make food prices higher. In a Forbes article, they concluded some of the main reasons for inflation — the pandemic and the Russian-Ukraine war. 

An image of milk and dairy in a grocery store in Edmonton, Canada. ​​PHOTO BY JULIA MAGSOMBOL/Edmonton

During the pandemic, food distribution was disrupted – starting from its production. The pandemic increased the food production cost from labour turnover and safety protocol. As a result, the prices of food went up. 

Another reason was the war in Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine are the largest wheat exports globally. But due to the war, both countries could not produce and export wheat to other countries. Russia and Ukraine can’t fulfill their roles as significant wheat producers, making wheat expensive due to its short supply. 

The Russian sanction also made the fertilizer shortage worst. There were sectorial sanctions placed on fertilizer, meaning their transportation was banned in some Western countries. Due to a shortage of fertilizer, farmers have no choice but to increase their crop prices, resulting in food inflation.

MacEwan Students on Food Inflation. 

Two MacEwan students shared their thoughts and their recent experiences on this problem. 

“I usually only buy something when it’s on sale, so there’s a lot of compromising [there].” Adrian Ting says, a third-year communications student. 

Ting says that food prices increased this year, and the price is a big thing for her. She also added that this inflation is something people can’t control, and this may be due to fertilizers and food ingredients becoming more expensive. For the future, Ting added that this might be the new normal. 

“I think it’ll become our norm. Then when the prices hike again, it’ll be another inflation,” says Ting. 

Another student shared her story.

“I’ve stopped myself from buying the food I want because of its price. I feel guilty in a way spending the money on foods that aren’t staples like snacks and such,” Ana Cruz says, a third-year commerce student. 

An image of fruits in a grocery store in Edmonton, Canada. ​​PHOTO BY JULIA MAGSOMBOL/Edmonton

Cruz says that it affects many people negatively, especially the Indigenous communities. Cruz read some articles about food inflation and said this could be a bigger problem in remote areas of Indigenous people. 

“It affects many people negatively. It could lead to food insecurity,” says Cruz. “I’m hoping it will go back to affordable prices for a majority of the people.” 

Cruz added that her family used to spend $200 per month, to buy their needs back then. But this time, they spent double that amount. 

What can students do to solve this problem? 

University students are extremely affected by food inflation, especially when they don’t have a permanent job yet or are living alone. Last September, CBC reported how food banks grew on university campuses. This presented how many students suffer from food insecurity. 

An image of bread in a grocery store in Edmonton, Canada. ​​PHOTO BY JULIA MAGSOMBOL/Edmonton

This food inflation is problematic for many students, but in the meantime, Ting and Cruz shared the ways they know in able to survive this dilemma.

“Budgeting would probably be their best bet,” Ting added.

They advise students to budget their food. In this way, it will help them to control the money they have. 

 “It helps me ensure I don’t spend more than the money I have,” Cruz concluded. 

If any students find it hard to bring food to their plates, SAMU pantry offers confidential food services. Students can freely use the service once in every two weeks. The food service is enough for 10 to 12 days of non – perishable food items, and all MacEwan students are eligible. 


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