High food prices worry New Brunswickers

New Brunswickers can expect to pay more for their fresh food this year. The low loonie is causing problems for importing fresh vegetables and meat. People with dietary needs and low incomes are finding the price hike challenging.

Fresh veggies at local grocery store Nathalie Sturgeon/STU Journalism
Fresh veggies at local grocery store
Nathalie Sturgeon/STU Journalism

Last year food costs spiked by $325, but it didn’t stop there. This year, families will see a hike of $345. Food items like cauliflower are hitting eight dollars.

Kaden MacLaren, a type one diabetic who has celiac disease, said the hike will seriously hurt her when it comes to her dietary needs.

She said the she spends approximately $600 a month on fresh food, and if the prices go up she won’t be able to afford the things she needs.

“Four bagels are six dollars, it’s excessive,” said MacLaren.

MacLaren says that normally her grocery list would support two people.

“I buy spinach, carrots, I try to buy frozen vegetables because they’re cheaper but they are just not as good,” said MacLaren.

The increase can mean that in the upcoming year affording fresh food and healthy options will become increasingly difficult.

The high price of groceries in New Brunswick coincides with the release of the budget proposed by the Liberal government.

The Liberal government has made several proposals and all mean that residents will be paying more. The Harmonized Sales Tax has increased to 15 per cent, as well as several cuts to civil service.

Taylor Hoyt, a Fredericton resident, says she is worried the food prices will mean hard times for everyone.

“It’s awful, I don’t understand why everything is so expensive now. It’s plants, we grow it,” said Hoyt.

Hoyt has turned to alternative options for her fresh food. She has her own onion plant growing, and bakes fresh bread, but she questions whether local food will be any cheaper.

MacLaren is also turning to other options, and says in the summer her family will grow their own food, but in the winter they just don’t have the resources.

Everyday items like meat are expected to rise about four and a half per cent this year, and fish and seafood is expected to rise about three per cent.

Meat shelves at local Sobey’s advertise local produce. Nathalie Sturgeon/STU Journalism

Importing fresh foods from places like Spain, Morroco and Florida is harder due to hard crop harvesting and the low loonie. Sobey’s told CBC that this is the worst situation in 30 years.

President of Sobey’s in Quebec, Claude Tessier, says they are turning to locals for things like potatoes and fresh vegetables.

“We’re not seeing a blowback in terms of purchasing,” Tessier told the CBC.

No blowback yet, but concern over having fresh food is still looming over the heads of New Brunswick consumers.

“It’s going to be a struggle for everybody. Me, it’s going to be extra hard, but I think a lot of people are going to have a hard time too,” said MacLaren.