What’s causing Canada’s food inflation?

|  Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
What’s causing Canada’s food inflation?

by Lauren Elder, Nutrition and Dietetics Student, University of Saskatchewan

Food inflation in Canada

The price of food in Canada continues to rise. According to Statistics Canada's latest inflation report, food prices have risen 11.4% from this time last year. This is the fastest that prices have gone up in Canada in over 40 years. 

So why are food prices on the rise? According to the grocery store CEOs, higher operating expenses due to the pandemic are the main factor.

COVID-19 has caused supply chain disruptions, labour shortages, and an increase in prices for packaging materials, freight, and fuel. In addition, the ongoing climate crisis, geopolitical conflict, high oil prices, and the decline in the Canadian dollar all impact retail food prices.

What does this mean for Canadian families? In simple terms, a family of four will likely spend over $1,000 more on food alone this year compared to last year.

Food insecurity: Inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints that can cause diet and nutritional deficiencies, malnutrition, and severe mental and emotional consequences.

Food inflation in Indigenous communities

Children shop for groceries in Natoaganeg (Eel Ground First Nation), NB.

In Canada, food prices have risen by over 11%. This is even higher in Indigenous communities.

As of 2021, 5.8 million Canadians, including 1.4 children, were food insecure. Since the pandemic, there has been a 35% increase in food bank usage. In fact, the highest use of food banks in history was just last year in March.   

For Indigenous people in Canada, the situation is more dire. According to the Borgen Project, 52% of Indigenous households with children experience food insecurity, compared to 9% of non- Indigenous households. Why is this? 

  • Food prices are 2.5 times higher than national averages 
  • There are significant barriers to traditional food acquisition 
  • There are limited food supplies 
  • There is limited access to grocery suppliers, especially in remote and isolated communities

As a result, many Indigenous households have no choice but to rely on cheaper, less nutritious options to feed their families. For children, this can spur the development of nutritional deficiencies that cause challenges with school and managing stress and depression, further perpetuating intergenerational poverty and continuing the cycle of food insecurity. 

How Canadian Feed The Children is helping 

Bella stands in a garden with bananas, smiling into the camera.

Bella (9 years old) of Neyaashiinigmiing (Nawash Unceded First Nation) smiles in a garden while holding bananas.

At Canadian Feed the Children (CFTC), we partner with Indigenous communities to create programs to help combat food insecurity within communities. We understand the importance of traditional food acquisition, food sharing, and look to the community for solutions to food system change.  

Following a community-led approach, our partners identify the needs of their community and create programs and initiatives to address their unique situations. With assistance from donors, we have partnered with 30 Indigenous communities to provide programming that will increase food sovereignty.

These programs include school nutrition education and meal programs and the development and maintenance of local food systems (community gardens and food forests) that promote land-based learning and facilitate the sharing of traditional cultural practices to children and families within these communities.   

Our community partners' hard work is already addressing food security issues as we strive to consistently improve access to culturally relevant and healthy food. With the continued rise in food costs, our communities continue to alleviate the stresses of food access for thousands of individuals across Canada and we are proud to partner with them along the way. 


Listen to our podcast First Comes Food, where we go on a journey through Indigenous food forests in Saskatchewan, farming communities in African countries and early childhood community programs in Bolivia to meet the people who are growing food security for everyone. Their stories may surprise you.

First Comes Food is now streaming on our website and wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. 

First Comes Food Podcast