Costly fruits and veggies pose challenge for some Toronto shoppers

A woman mills back and forth in the grocery store aisles with her six-year-old son in tow. Once in a while, she eyes a fruit, sees the price, and then walks away.

Cathy Yan is a Chinese immigrant living in Toronto with a family of four. When she first arrived, she was thinking of a good life for her family. Now, the high fruit and vegetable prices are posing a barrier to that. 

Cathy Yan shares her experience with the price of a tomato over the years.

In 2015, the sliding loonie forced the prices of fruits and vegetables in Canada up by 9.1 to 10 per cent. That trend is expected to continue in 2016.

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Meats: 2.5 – 4.5%
Fish and seafood: 1-3%
Dairy and eggs: 0-2%
Grains: 0.2%
Fruits and Nuts: 2.5% – 4.5%
Vegetables: 2-4%
Overall food costs: 2-4%

Canada imports a majority of its fruits and vegetables, so the prices fluctuate in tune to the Canadian dollar.

“It’s growing conditions,” said a No-Frills produce manager who did not want to be named.

“The cost of our dollar is way down, it’s costing us more to buy the products from the states because everyone is dealing in US dollars not Canadian dollars, so that doesn’t help us either.”

Yan feels the impact, especially as she prepared for Chinese New Year celebrations.

“In our tradition in Chinese New Year many different families and friends gather together and eat lots of vegetables and fruits, but because of the high price we have to limit the purchase, and that makes the holiday a little less enjoyable,” Yan said.

Outside of the holidays, Yan has to limit her family’s regular intake of produce.

“Recently I think we changed a little bit of our eating habits for fruits,” she said. “We eat some cheaper things more often, and the tradeoff is not very balanced diet.”

The prices for these healthy foods continue to soar while the the cost of junk food remain affordable. This trend is forcing those on a limited budget to make a choice between health and an unmanageable grocery bill.

“I hope the prices go down soon,” Yan said.