A food professor at Dalhousie University says for a few years now, many Canadians suspected that Statistics Canada was either underestimating the food inflation rate, or that there was some sort of lag between what was going on at the grocery store versus what was reported.
Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is Senior Director at the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University.
"We are now working with a company which mines data on the web, looks at flyers all across the country on a daily basis and we do see major differences between what StatsCan is suggesting when it comes to higher food prices versus what BetterCart is actually suggesting at retail. It's really concerning, some staples like pasta, for example, butter, other staples, we're seeing some major differences."
He commented on the impact of the discrepancies.
"A lot of collective agreements, a lot of salaries are often negotiated based on the CPI. If you go to the grocery store, it's costing you way more than what the CPI is suggesting. That's certainly a real problem for a lot of families."
He notes the reality doesn’t really reflect what consumers are experiencing at the grocery store, adding that could hurt the federal agency’s reputation over time.