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Home » Canadian Survey Finds Widespread Worry That Eating Cheap Food Will Lead to Poor Health

Canadian Survey Finds Widespread Worry That Eating Cheap Food Will Lead to Poor Health

by Koby John
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A study by Dalhousie researchers suggests a surge in food prices has impacted households in many ways.

The Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University released the results of an extensive survey given to 5,000 Canadians regarding their food shopping in the past year.

The survey found 64.1% of respondents have substantially altered their grocery shopping. An overwhelming 86.4% now consider themselves more price-conscious compared to a year ago. Moreover, 55.1% are currently employing cost-saving mechanisms more than they were using 12 months prior, using coupons, apps, loyalty programs and referencing flyers.

Notably, 79.2% of Canadians have availed themselves of loyalty programs in the past 12 months, with coupons following closely at 74.8%. Additionally, 52.8% have explored food-rescuing apps and 41.4% actively seek “enjoy tonight” deals. Furthermore, 49.7% of Canadians have contemplated growing their own food to counteract the impact of food inflation on their budgets.

Canadians have been looking harder for deals than they did a year ago, as 59.3% of respondents say they’re more inclined to visit discount stores. Likewise, 47% have increased their visits to dollar stores, while 18.5% of Canadians are frequenting farmers’ markets more often. A substantial 17% of Canadians have bought food online for more than a year.

Store brands, also known as private labels, are gaining prominence in response to the market’s heightened frugality. A significant 63.8% of Canadians are more inclined now than last year to opt for generic brands over national brands to save money.

Compared to last year, 41.2% of Canadians now visit grocery stores less frequently and are adopting more strategic stocking practices. Conversely, 26.5% are increasing their visits to grocery stores, capitalizing on deals, and purchasing only what is needed for two or three days

Canadians are more likely to eat everything they buy now too. A substantial 79.1% say they have significantly reduced food waste in the past year, demonstrating a willingness to consume leftovers or repurpose ingredients. This trend may account for the decline in the volume of food sold by retailers in recent months, as reported by NIQ (formerly known as NielsenIQ).

Rising food prices have compelled Canadians to make challenging dietary choices. Higher prices have caused 49.2% to reduce how much meat and protein sources they buy. While 45.5% say they prioritize cost over nutritional value when grocery shopping, 63.3% are concerned that buying less nutritious foods may hurt their health in the long run.

Geography, age and income differences affected how Canadians were coping. People in New Brunswick and Alberta are more inclined to prioritize cost savings over nutritional value and Albertans and British Columbians are more concerned about the health implications of such choices.

The Greatest Generation has the highest percentage (54.7%) of respondents prioritizing cost over nutritional value. Millennials have the highest percentage (68.7%) of respondents expressing concern about compromising nutrition due to high food prices. Boomers have the lowest percentage (34.6%) prioritizing cost over nutritional value.

The survey found those with higher incomes are less likely to prioritize cost. This also leaves them less concerned about the potential health impacts of prioritizing cost over nutritional value.

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, thought the findings were noteworthy.

“I believe that this survey sheds important light on the evolving challenges that Canadians face when it comes to their grocery shopping habits and their concerns about nutrition in the face of rising food prices. It’s evident that these challenges are not just economic but also deeply tied to the daily lives and well-being of Canadians,” he said.

Janet Music, Research Manager of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie, concurred.

“In an era marked by shifting economic landscapes and global uncertainties, understanding how individuals and communities adapt and cope with these changes becomes paramount. The data we’ve gathered reflects the resilience and adaptability of Canadians as they navigate the complexities of the higher food price landscape.”

The representative survey of 5,521 Canadians was conducted in September 2023 in partnership with Caddle. The margin of error is +/- 2.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Source: Western Standard

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