Record inflation: Eating fresh has become a luxury

With inflation now hitting 7.5% in Quebec, some may have to reconcile eating fewer fresh vegetables and fish, foods whose prices have all risen by at least 10% over the past year.

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In Canada, inflation is now at 7.7%, the fastest annual increase since January 1983. Worse still is food inflation, which is at 9.7%.

The rise in the cost of living is obviously hitting low-income earners and those on welfare with the full force. The explosion in demand at food banks is there to prove it.

Not just the poor…

But medium-sized companies are also going there.

Éric Lheureux, crossed at the Jean Talon market yesterday, receives a federal pension, but despite this he has started paying particular attention to food waste as everything costs more.

Photo Julien McEvoy

Éric Lheureux, crossed at the Jean Talon market yesterday, receives a federal pension, but despite this he has started paying particular attention to food waste as everything costs more.

“I didn’t used to look at the costs, but now I pay attention,” says Éric Lheureux, for example, who has worked for the federal government all his life and is enjoying a comfortable pension at the age of 62.

With the price of fresh vegetables up 10.3% and fresh or frozen fish up 11.7% in May, we can understand that throwing food away hurts more and more.

sacrifice quality

Some no longer buy fish at all.

“I would say that one in 10 customers walks in, finds it too expensive and walks out right away,” says Bernard Cormier, a fishmonger at Shamrock in Montreal for the past six years.

If regular customers still buy, many others say they go elsewhere because it’s cheaper, “but they sacrifice quality.”

Increased insecurity

For example, a 600-800 gram Mediterranean sea bass sells for $24 today compared to $19 12 months ago.

The topic of food security is therefore very blatant, as a budget consultant from Option consommateurs observes on a daily basis.

“We have more and more inquiries, our call volume has increased significantly,” regrets Johanne Le Blanc.

In her deliberations, she is spending more and more time on the underestimated food budget item.

“Precariousness is increasing and people no longer have enough money for food,” she observes.

Because if the price of groceries, which is a variable expense, rises sharply, so will fixed expenses like rent: 7.4% in May.

The transportation sector was also up 14.6% in May, which includes a 48% rise in gas prices.

In short, people are thinking less and less about vitamins and more and more about simply satisfying satiety, summarizes Johanne Le Blanc.

Wage increases are far from keeping pace with inflation

As inflation eats away at the incomes of Quebecers and Canadians, the average salary jumps only slightly in comparison.

In Canada, wages increased by 3.9% from May 2021 to May 2022, compared to 7.7% for inflation.

“Some companies have already seen significant pay rises, but not all pull through,” said Karl Blackburn, President and CEO of the Conseil du patronat du Québec (CPQ).

The Bosse lobby boss is thinking, among other things, of the workers at Olymel, who last year achieved 26 percent over six years.

But profit margins in many sectors would be too weak for bosses to offer wage increases to match inflation.

Puzzles for bosses

“It’s a conundrum that’s settling in Quebec and causing problems for employers. It’s not just the salary,” he defends, noting that many teleworking policies have been put in place.

But never before have there been so many vacancies in the country. In the first quarter it was 957,500, which is a record.

In Quebec there were 224,370, which is more than the number of unemployed, which was recorded as 190,000.

With unemployment rates at historic lows – 5.1% in Canada and 4.2% in Quebec in May – shouldn’t wages be rising faster?

“In the context of the current spiraling inflation, there are even investment projects that are being shelved because costs are increasing significantly,” argues Mr. Blackburn.

In his opinion, the real problem for employers is the labor shortage, which is slowing down development and at the same time putting pressure on the bosses.

–With TVA Nouvelles

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