Description

“Canadians are feeling the pain of rampant food inflation; They are also angry about the rising cost of food and drink and many place blame at the feet of grocers and producers. This is leading to a crisis of confidence toward the industry. There is no easy solution as rising prices are the result of global issues that are not specific to Canada. That said, for shoppers, perception is reality and brands need to acknowledge consumers’ pain, take steps to show empathy and as they are help nourish Canadians in an affordable manner.”

– Joel Gregoire, Associate Director for Food and Drink

This Report will look at the following areas:

  • Attitudes toward what changes in habits consumers are willing to adopt to adapt to rising prices.
  • Where consumers shop and how that has shifted during this period of rampant inflation.
  • Steps consumers say they are taking to adapt to higher inflation rates and what actions they would like to see from retailers and producers.
  • An examination of different issues that are interrelated with food inflation, including the importance of ethics and transparency, private label’s role in giving more control to grocers, awareness of the importance of sustainability and innovation in automation to control costs.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
        • Executive Summary

            • Top takeaways
              • Market overview
                • Figure 1: Outlook for inflation and food and drink shopping, 2023-27
              • Key consumer insights
                • Frustration among shoppers is palpable as many accuse the food industry of ‘greedflation’
                  • Empathy takes on greater importance as inflation takes a mental toll on shoppers
                    • More than anything, shoppers want prices on staples capped
                      • Consumers are coping by hunting for deals
                        • Consumers are most willing to compromise on the quality of snacks to save
                          • As food inflation rises, shoppers rely more on discount retailers
                          • Market Factors

                            • Inflation’s grip on food prices is exasperating for consumers
                              • Figure 2: Canadian year over year consumer price index (annualized inflation rate) for all items and food from retail, by month, 2019-22
                              • Figure 3: Concerns expressed by Canadians (any rank), March-December 2022
                              • Figure 4: Expected increase in household income vs household spending by quarter among Canadians, 2014 Q4-2022 Q4
                            • There is no price relief across grocery categories
                              • Figure 5: Annualized monthly change in prices of food purchased from stores by category, December 2022 vs December 2021
                            • It may not be the most important consideration, but ethics do matter to Canadians
                              • Figure 6: Importance of ethics in food and drink, 2021
                          • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                            • As prices rise, transparency matters even more for brands
                              • ‘Local’ can help shield brands from some inflation-related acrimony
                                • Having a recognizable spokesperson can be a target for ire
                                  • Private label helps retailers combat inflation
                                    • Sustainability and food waste take on heightened importance as food inflation runs rampant
                                      • Consumer-centric solutions that promote sustainability
                                        • Figure 7: Too Good To Go Instagram post, 2021
                                      • A tighter labour market incentivizes advances in automation
                                        • Loblaw is testing autonomous delivery trucks for the ‘middle-mile’
                                          • Figure 8: Gatik and Loblaw make history with first fully driverless deployment in Canada, 2022
                                        • More ways to checkout make for a better shopping experience
                                          • Figure 9: New Scan, Bag, Go App I Scan bag Go FAQs I Kroger, 2021
                                      • The Budget Food and Drink Shopper – Fast Facts

                                        • Perceived Change in Grocery Budgeting

                                          • Most shoppers are spending more on groceries
                                            • Figure 10: Change in grocery spending compared to before the most recent period of rapid inflation, 2022
                                          • Moms are more likely to be ‘feeling the pinch’
                                            • Figure 11: Change in grocery spending compared to before the most recent period of rapid inflation, by parental status, 2022
                                            • Figure 12: Change in grocery spending compared to before the most recent period of rapid inflation, by region, 2022
                                        • Where Consumers Shop

                                          • Even with rampant inflation, most shop at supermarkets
                                              • Figure 13: Where consumers shop for groceries, 2022
                                            • Financial situations impact where consumers shop for groceries
                                                • Figure 14: Where consumers shop for groceries, by financial situation, 2022
                                                • Figure 15: Where consumers shop for groceries, by age, 2022
                                              • As budgets tighten, Canadians are shifting where they get their food from
                                                  • Figure 16: How where shopping for groceries has changed, by store type, 2022
                                                  • Figure 17: How where shopping for groceries has changed by store type, by household income, 2022
                                              • Shifts in Shopping Behaviours Due to Food Inflation

                                                • Consumers are willing to switch brands to save money
                                                  • Figure 18: Changes in shopping behaviours due to food inflation, 2022
                                                • Those worse off financially are more willing to compromise on quality
                                                  • Figure 19: Changes in shopping behaviours due to food inflation (% agree), by financial situation, 2022
                                                  • Figure 20: Changes in shopping behaviours due to food inflation (% agree), mothers vs fathers vs overall, 2022
                                              • Actions Taken to Save Money

                                                • Shoppers are on the hunt for deals to combat food inflation
                                                  • Figure 21: Actions shoppers take to save money on groceries, 2022
                                                  • Figure 22: Flashfood Instagram post, 2023
                                                • Those struggling financially are most likely to cut back in order to save
                                                  • Figure 23: Actions shoppers take to save money on groceries, by financial situation, 2022
                                                  • Figure 24: Actions shoppers take to save money on groceries, by age, 2022
                                                  • Figure 25: Actions shoppers take to save money on groceries, South Asians and Chinese Canadians vs overall, 2022
                                                  • Figure 26: Actions shoppers take to save money on groceries, by age, 2022
                                              • Categories Where Shoppers Are Willing to Sacrifice Quality to Save

                                                • Shoppers would rather compromise on the quality of processed than whole foods to save money
                                                    • Figure 27: Categories shoppers are willing to sacrifice quality on to save money (top three), 2022
                                                  • Those struggling financially are more likely to compromise on quality across multiple categories
                                                    • Figure 28: Categories shoppers are willing to sacrifice quality on to save money (top three), by financial situation, 2022
                                                    • Figure 29: Categories shoppers are willing to sacrifice quality on to save money (top three), by age, 2022
                                                    • Figure 30: Categories shoppers are willing to sacrifice quality on to save money (top three), by parental status, 2022
                                                    • Figure 31: Categories shoppers are willing to sacrifice quality on to save money (top three), South Asians and Chinese Canadians vs overall population, 2022
                                                • How Grocers and Producers Can Help Shoppers Save

                                                  • Shoppers want a cap on food prices
                                                    • Figure 32: Steps shoppers want grocers and manufacturers to take to help them save money, 2022
                                                    • Figure 33: Paysan Naturally Smoked Bacon (Canada), May 2020
                                                  • Solutions younger shoppers would like to see suggests a more malleable approach to saving on food
                                                    • Figure 34: Steps shoppers want grocers and manufacturers to take to help them save money, by age, 2022
                                                    • Figure 35: Demand for grocers and manufacturers to sell lower priced but lower quality versions of products to help shoppers save, by financial situation, 2022
                                                    • Figure 36: Steps shoppers want grocers and manufacturers to take to help them save money, British Columbia vs overall, 2022
                                                • The Mental and Emotional Impact of Food Inflation

                                                  • Rampant food inflation has given rise to a profound sense of unfairness
                                                    • Figure 37: Attitudes toward the impact of food inflation, 2022
                                                  • Food inflation is less likely to cause stress for those with ‘healthy’ finances
                                                    • Figure 38: Perceptions of the stress caused by food inflation and using inflation as an excuse to price gouge (% agree), by financial situation, 2022
                                                    • Figure 39: Attitudes toward the impact of food inflation (% agree), by parental status, 2022
                                                    • Figure 40: The pace at which food costs have risen has given me added stress” (% agree), by region, 2022
                                                • Impact of Food Inflation on At-home Behaviours

                                                  • Inflation is impacting Canadians’ perceived ability to eat healthily
                                                    • Figure 41: Attitudes about the impact of food inflation on eating and planning behaviours, 2022
                                                  • For some, they have a hard time affording food, let alone healthy food
                                                    • Figure 42: Attitudes about the impact of food inflation on eating and planning behaviours (% agree), by financial health, 2022
                                                    • Figure 43: Attitudes toward the impact of food inflation on eating and planning behaviours (% agree), 18-44 vs over-45s, 2022
                                                    • Figure 44: Attitudes toward the impact of food inflation on eating and planning behaviours (% agree), mothers vs fathers vs overall, 2022
                                                    • Figure 45: Attitudes toward the impact of food inflation on eating and planning behaviours (% agree), Quebec vs overall, 2022
                                                • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                  • Data sources
                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                      • Consumer qualitative research
                                                        • Abbreviations and terms
                                                          • Abbreviations

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