Food Freedom Day
by Kim Cooper
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. 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 so much for granted, including the prices and quality of the food we eat.
Canadians will be working for many more months this year to pay off what they owe in taxes. But as of Friday, February 9, called Food Freedom Day, a Canadian household of average income will have earned enough income to pay for their grocery bill for the entire year of 2018. 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 food and food 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.
Canadians spent 11% of their disposable income on food in 2017, according to figures based on the latest statistics, compared to 10.7% in 2016. This year, Food Freedom Day falls one day later than last year’s date, reflecting a slight cost increase due to to shifts in consumer habits, as well as some impacts from weather volatility in key production areas for certain commodities.
We are fortunate in Canada to have access to a safe, abundant and affordable food supply. Relative to populations around the world, most Canadians have access to affordable food, consistently ranking in the world’s top five for lowest food costs.
Choosing Canadian products at the grocery store is an important role that consumers have in supporting farmers and our food system. The grocery store purchases of consumers provide market data for retailers, who then determine what they will stock their shelves with. This produces a ripple effect that goes right down to the farm level.
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% 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. 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.
Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our website at: wegrowfortheworld.com
Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 45 years. He can be reached at: email@example.com
You can also follow him on Twitter at ‘theAGguy’