Food is vital to everyone. It plays such a huge part in our daily lives. And no matter what you think or believe, we have inexpensive food here in Canada. It may not seem that way when you have to pay at the grocery store register, but we really do. I know that food prices, especially vegetables, have been increasing lately due to shortages, the ongoing drought in California, and the lower Canadian dollar, which makes all imports, food and other products, more expensive.
In my business travels to over 30 countries around the world, I have seen food prices much higher and quality much lower, compared to what we have here in Canada. If we are honest with ourselves, we do take the prices and quality of our food for granted.
Canadians will be working for many more months this year to pay off what they owe in taxes. But sometime in the next one to two weeks, we will celebrate Food Freedom Day, which signifies a day when we will have made enough money to buy all our food for 2016. This is an amazing thing to appreciate here in Canada, and something we all need to be more thankful for.
In terms of food prices, farmers get paid one price for their commodities, while consumers pay a very different price for the end products they buy in the supermarket or restaurant. The difference in price is related to the added value from processors, wholesalers, and retailers. It is also related to the relationship between buyers and sellers at every step along the way.
Over the last 10 years, prices paid by consumers for food increased over eight times more than the prices received as a return to farmers. Our Canadian producers continue to receive only a very slim percentage of the money consumers spend in the grocery store or restaurant.
For example, for a 250-mL glass of milk at a restaurant that costs $1.95, the dairy farmer’s share would be about 22 cents, with the remainder going to processors and retailers.
The box of corn flakes for which you paid $3.95, the farmer was paid seven cents for the corn.
The prime sirloin steak you bought last week for $15 brought the farmer about $2.
Or that loaf of whole wheat bread for $2.50 had the farmer receiving 15 cents for the wheat.
Food waste is another area of concern. Annually, Canadians waste approximately $27 billion worth of food, which means over $770 in food dollars wasted per person every year.
Of this waste, which includes transportation, distribution, food service, farmers’ fields, retail stores, packaging and processing, a whopping 51 per cent of food waste was at the home.
In terms of food production, there are many factors involved in the cost of growing food for Ontario consumers. To respond to growing consumer demand, Ontario producers are improving the environmental sustainability of their operations. Just as important, they are implementing programs that continue to ensure the safety of food, right from the farm gate to your dinner plate.
So when you are out this week buying your groceries, remember that our producers grow some of the highest quality, safest, and most affordable foods in the world.
Just some food for thought.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our community’s agricultural website at:www.wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 40 years. He can be reached at:
You can also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/theagguy