Climate change is costing you at the grocery store

Climate change are costing you at the grocery store

Global food price inflation is also due to armed conflict, labor shortages, and rising energy costs.

“Coudonc, the groceries is out of price”, you say to yourself. Among the various factors which explain food inflation record are pointed out climate change. Here  ;so the foodstuffs that cost you more in 2022, in particular because of our increasingly sick planet.  

Agrifood: a globalized market

“The food market is not local or regional, it is global. So when there is a shortage or the prospect of scarcity, there is a rapid increase in prices everywhere. This is what we experienced in 2021-2022.” 
– Marcel Groleau, President of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA) International Development and President of the Coalition Feeding Humanity Sustainably

Meat

  • Price increase between January 2021 and January 2022: 10.1%
  • Causes: droughts in 2021 in the American Midwest as well as in Western Canada. 
  • Impact: insufficient harvests of grain used to feed livestock.&nbsp ;  

This situation was probably caused by climate change, or at least the drought was more severe because of climate change. […] On the other hand, what portion can be attributed to climate change versus the increase in energy prices, labor costs, or even its scarcity, it becomes difficult to say.

Marcel Groleau, President of UPA International Development and President of the Coalition to Feed Humanity Sustainably

Mustard

  • 18.8%*: price increase for condiments, spices and vinegars between June 2021 and June 2022< /li>
  • Cause: heat wave in Western Canada in the summer of 2021, when temperatures reached 50°C. 
  • Impact: mustard seed production drops by 28% in Canada, the world's largest producer. 

Sriracha-sauce

  •  12.8%* : price increase for condiments, spices and vinegars between October 2021 and October 2022 
  • Cause: a severe drought in California in the spring of 2022.  
  • Impact: The shortage of hot peppers has forced the company Huy Fong Foods to pause production of the famous hot sauce. 

Lettuce

  • 30%*   :Price increase between October 2021 and October 2022
  • Causes: drought and disease ravaged lettuce crops in California in 2022.  
  • < li>Impact: rarity of romaine and iceberg lettuce on the market. 

There is nothing to worry about [in the short or medium term] because the production cycle [of lettuce] will resume. Lettuce picks up pretty quickly. In March, crops from California will probably return to the market.

Sylvain Charlebois, professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University

Wheat

  • 16.9%* : increase in the price of bakery and grain products between October 2021 and October 2022
  • Causes: in addition to the conflict in Ukraine, droughts in America and Europe in 2022 contribute to wheat price inflation. 
  • Impact: less wheat on the market , which mainly affects the production of pasta (27.4%) as well as flour and flour mixtures (23.2%). 

Sure, Ukraine was a factor, but so were the droughts in America. Europe was hit by a drought, Asia was hit by a drought, so there was less product on the market.

Sylvain Charlebois, professor of distribution and agri-food policy at Dalhousie University

Rice

14, 7%* : increase in the price of rice and rice-based mixtures between October 2021 and October 2022

Causes:India and Pakistan – the two main basmati rice producing countries – were heavily affected in 2022 by episodes of high heat and heavy rains which compromised harvests. 

Impact: almost 250,000 tons of rice reduced to nothing. 

When the price of wheat rises, buyers and consumers move to other sources of protein. In turn, the scarcity of wheat on the markets leads to an increase in the price of other cereals, including rice, which is the most consumed cereal on the planet.

Marcel Groleau, President of UPA International Development and President from the Coalition to Feed Humanity Sustainably

*The price increase data comes from Statistics Canada. It is important to remember that these increases are not solely due to climate change. 

Act now

Without intervention, climate disruptions will have serious consequences for the global economy and the food security, warns the latest food price report from Dalhousie University’s Department of Management released this week.  

The adverse effects of climate change are likely to continue to lead to food supply deficiencies, causing cyclical price increases.  

However, to explain the rising grocery bill, the report also points to carbon taxes imposed on the agriculture sector. The latter involve additional costs that will increase the production and transport costs associated with food. This increase will incentivize producers to pass on these costs to consumers, in an effort to maintain their profitability, the document reads. 

“If food price inflation is higher than the 'average inflation is partly due to climate change,' maintains Marcel Groleau. 

Long-term projections in Canada

According to the information available on the Government of Canada website, the impacts of climate change on agriculture in the country differ from one region to another. Some are negative, some are positive. 

Increased temperature 

  • Growing season extended. 
  • Expansion of warm climate crops such as corn and soybeans. 
  • Potential northward expansion of agricultural production. 
  • Increase evapotranspiration, increasing plant water stress. 
  • Increased water use efficiency due to increased atmospheric CO2. 
  • Higher productivity of crops such as wheat, barley, canola, soybeans and potatoes due to higher levels of CO2. 
  • Emergence of new pests and diseases. 
  • Repercussions on the health of livestock, resulting in reduced production of milk, eggs and meat, and even mortalities. 
  • Increased cooling costs for producers. 

Increased rains 

  • Delay in planting/seeding operations due to waterlogged fields.  
  • Increased soil erosion and nutrient runoff.  

Reduced rainfall  

  • Weakening of plants and harmful effects for r the productions.  
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