As prices soared at the grocery store over the past year, many Saskatchewan residents might be left wondering about some of the causes.

Denam Drew, Economist with Consumer Prices Division with Statistics Canada, said that in Saskatchewan, some of the highest year-over-year percent price changes we've seen are in regards to edible fats and oils, which includes cooking oils and olive oils.

"We've seen higher prices for a variety of food items for a number of reasons. We've seen a drop in canola production earlier on, which is still affecting prices. We've seen bakery products have a high year-over-year percent change. Supply constraints, although getting better, are still a factor."

Drew explained that wheat prices increased with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Although he said that wheat prices are starting to get better, they still affect bakery product prices. As well, he believed that higher prices for coffee and tea are due to weather related issues in Brazil, which is one of the main exporters of coffee.

"Across a lot of food items we're seeing a lot of weather related issues. Two of the next highest year-over-year percent changes are preserved vegetables, vegetable preparations, as well as fresh vegetables."

Drew stated that, "We're seeing weather related issues in growing regions for fresh vegetables, specifically some of the vegetables I looked at, we're seeing right now in January, we're seeing cold weather affecting prices, affecting supply, which can push up prices."

Food prices soar

In Saskatchewan, he explained, we continued to see acceleration and faster price growth with respect to December and meat prices. "At the national level, we saw chicken prices rise, which was the largest month-over-month growth since September 1986, that pushed up the year-over-year meat price increase."

He noted in Saskatchewan we've seen faster growth in food from stores, but food from restaurants has pulled down the overall food component in Saskatchewan. Whereas at the national level, the food component in general and food from stores both accelerated in January.

"It's one of the only provinces where we're seeing food from restaurants grow at a slower pace in January due to food from table service restaurants."

Drew added that with grocery prices in general, and specifically with meat, over time they've seen a lot of issues with supply chains, weather related issues, input prices and shipping prices. "In January in Saskatchewan, we're seeing upward pressure from beef, and there's more of a trend towards lower priced beef alternatives as people are watching their dollar more."

Food prices