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Climate change to push food prices higher, report predicts up to 4% hike in 2020

Last Updated Dec 4, 2019 at 7:52 am MST

(iStock Photo)

GUELPH – The average Canadian family will pay up to an extra $500 on food next year, according to an annual food price report. 

Sylvain Charlebois with Dalhousie University said this is a conservative estimate and the cost could even be higher.

“$500 is actually in the grand scheme of things is actually quite a lot. This is probably the highest dollar amount increase we’ve ever expected.”

Vegetables are expected to see the highest increase from three to six per cent while meat and seafood are projected to drop in price.

Unexpected snowstorms, droughts and other weather events have impacted crops and food prices in the past, said Simon Somogyi, lead researcher from the University of Guelph.

But for 2020, he and others behind the report highlight climate change as the cause.

“We’re deliberately pointing out that, you know: climate change is causing the droughts, is causing the bad snowstorms that’s impacting prices,” he said.

The report calls the impact of changing weather patterns on our food systems through droughts, forest fires, heavy precipitation, reduced freshwater access and rising sea levels “the elephant in the room” for 2020.

“Canadian farmers will face challenges in the future dealing with unpredictable crop yields, heat-wave livestock threats, pasture availability, and pest and disease outbreaks,” reads the report from researchers at Dalhousie University and the University of Guelph.