Canada imports the vast majority of our vegetables and fruits from ‘somewhere else’. Because of this food supply chain added costs need to be factored in before it gets to the shelf. Labour, transportation, handling, profit etc are only part of the factors that go into the final food prices on the shelf. BUT at the moment the one that is most effecting price of the food prices is the exchange rate.
In my mind the other factors are real inputs the exchange rate is no longer based in reality. It is a factor that is determined by people and financial organisations and has no tangible rationalization.
But we have to live with this reality – that the US dollar is now floating at 1.3801 Canadian (February 20th, 2016). Twelve months ago it was 1.2506, twenty for months it was only 1.1104 and 36 months ago it was virtually at par (1.0163). Last month it almost touch 1.46.
Most suppliers in other countries want to be paid with US dollars since they in turn have to purchase inputs from other sources and it better for them to get US dollars than their own currency of Canadian dollars.
It is this exchange rate that is causing the bulk of the raise in food prices and the recent jump in the Canadian Inflation Rate.
Higher fruit and vegetable prices were also a factor, up 18 per cent annually in January after rising 13 per cent in December. A subsector that includes broccoli, cauliflower, celery and peppers increased by more than 22 per cent, its highest since 2009. (sourced from http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/inflation-january-1.3454993)
It is a shame that vegetables and fruit are getting hit so badly at the moment since it is our belief that these are the component that the majority of people are not getting enough in their daily diet.
New Deal on Food Prices
Earth’s General Store wants to do something about this to help people consume more fresh veggies and fruits. It will be a gamble for us so we will need your help.
We will reduce the margin we normally take on these products. Our normal price will be consistently the best prices for organic produce in the city (I am told it already is but this will push it to a new level).
ALL of our Fresh Vegetables and Fruits are Certified Organic. Our supply of BC apples is almost all gone so now we are offering apples from Washington state.
On February 26th, 2016 I stopped into Safeway (Bonnie Doon) and recorded some of their prices. They don’t offer much in the way of organic. I also recorded some non-organic items if there wasn’t an organic option. The non-organic prices are in red. Note that there are several items that we sell as organic that are LESS than their non-organic prices (see kale, parsley, lemons, zucchini, ginger).
|APPLES GRANNY SMITH||weight||3.19|
|APPLES MIXED DISCO BAG||weight||2.99|
|APPLES PINK LADY||weight||3.49|
|APPLES RED DELICIOUS||weight||2.49||2.49|
|AVOCADO FAIRTRADE HASS||item||1.99||1.79|
|BANANAS FT FAIRTRADE||weight||1.29||0.77|
|BEANS GREEN FT||item||4.49|
|BEETS BUNCH RED BUNCHED||item||2.19|
|BOK CHOY BABY||weight||2.99|
|CARROTS 10 x 5# TABLE||item||8.99|
|CARROTS 24 x 2# TABLE||item||3.79|
|CHARD RAINBOW CHARD||item||2.49|
|CUCUMBER LONG ENGLISH||item||2.89|
|DATES MEDJOOL PREMIUM||weight||11.49|
|EGGPLANT EGGPLANT GLOBE||weight||3.49|
|GINGER FAIRTRADE GINGER||weight||4.99||4.99|
|GRAPEFRUIT RUBY RED||item||1.49|
|HERBS BUNCHED BASIL BUNCH||item||1.49|
|HERBS BUNCHED DILL/MINT 12x1oz||item||1.69|
|HERBS CLAMSHELL 3x1oz||item||1.69|
|KALE BLACK LACINATO||item||2.29|
|KALE GREEN CURLY||item||2.49||2.49|
|KALE PURPLE REDBOR||item||2.09|
|KIWI 1# BAGS||item||3.99|
|LETTUCE GREEN LEAF||item||2.49|
|LETTUCE PKG SALADS 6 x 10 OZ CLAM||item||8.49|
|LETTUCE PKG SALADS 6 X 5 OZ CLAM||item||5.89|
|LETTUCE RED LEAF||item||2.49|
|MANGO KENT FT||item||1.99|
|ONIONS CIPOLLINI LOCAL||weight||3.99|
|ONIONS GREEN ONIONS||item||1.49|
|ONIONS SHALLOTS LOCAL||weight||2.49|
|ONIONS YELLOW BAGGED 3# bags||item||4.69|
|ORANGES / CITRUS BLOOD||weight||4.49|
|ORANGES / CITRUS CARA CARA||weight||2.79|
|ORANGES / CITRUS NAVEL||weight||2.49||1.99|
|ORANGES / CITRUS VAL BAGS 4# bags||item||7.99|
|ORANGES / CITRUS VALENCIA FANCY||weight||1.99|
|PEPPERS ORANGE HH L / XL||weight||4.99|
|PEPPERS RED HH L / XL||weight||4.49|
|POTATO BAGGED YELLOW 3#||item||4.99|
|RADISH RADISH WATERMELON||weight||6.69|
|SPROUTS ALFALFA/GARLIC 100g||item||2.49|
|SQUASH SUMMER ZUCCHINI MEDIUM FT||weight||1.99||2.99|
|SWEET POTATO #1||weight||2.09||2.29|
|TOMATO GRAPE FT||item||4.95|
|TOMATO HOT HOUSE||weight||3.49|
|TOMATO VINES TOV CLUSTER FCY||weight||3.99|
|TURMERIC Fresh FAIRTRADE||weight||16.89|
|TURNIP PURPLE TOP||weight||2.49|
|YAMS JEWEL/GARNET #1||weight||2.49|
All prices are as of February 26th, 2016 – Revised on February 27th because I was looking at the wrong list 🙁
So when you go shopping this weekend at your usual organic food store or big box take these prices with you and compare. See how much you can save. We think that our Earth’s General Store prices will offer you a savings.
Though to be fair with us it would be nice if you compared our fair prices to the prices being offered in those stores that are similar in nature – organic food stores in Edmonton.
Can you save money by buying from us compared to the box delivery services? I don’t know but compare the prices and see what you think.
We hope that this information help people to save a little bit of your money while purchasing healthier organic fresh vegetables and fruits.
Is there an upside to high vegetable and fruit food prices?
The upside of this jump in food prices of certain vegetables will be a boom for more people to increase local production. It is our hope that this opportunity for local grows might mean that they will use organic practices to raise their crops and better still – Certified Organic.
I expect that our local Certified Organic growers will be expanding their production this year to service this projected demand. Check out places like Sparrow’s Nest Organics, Sun Dog Organic, Peas on Earth and August Organics.
Other ways to save money on Food Prices
There are many growers in the Edmonton area and others that bring in produce from BC. I have noticed that they will quite often charge the same prices as the organic vendors without having to be organic. I personally do not think this is fair. Last year we compared our Certified Organic fruit prices with a fruit vendor at the downtown Farmer’s Market and found that our prices were a better value for the purchaser than what was being offered to them at the market. AND our fruits came from the BC as well.
An increase in fruit production tends to take several years to develop but most vegetables are a seasonal crop.
There has been a lot of talk lately regarding food waste. When food is wasted that represents a disrespect for the labour, energy, water, time, love that went into growing it and it costs you money. If we reduced our food waste by buying smarter (smaller amounts) and more often and store those foods properly then is the potential to be saving a significant of our food budget (it is estimated that 30-40% of food is wasted in our homes).
Buy Canadian. When we purchase Canadian foods we eliminate the issue around the exchange rate and more money stays in Canada to support Canadian farms and our social infrastructure. The same is true when we spend our money in Canadian businesses rather than multinational food stores.
Another way that you can save lots of money on vegetable prices is to start to grow your own and learn how to store and preserve them for the winter months. Earth’s General Store is starting to get our organic seeds into the store that is a good place to start.
Check out my blog post from a few years ago for some more strategies on how to save on your food budget.