Fruit, Vegetable Prices Soar In Canada: "If You Insist On Eating Tomatoes, You're Going To Pay For It"

Tyler Durden's picture

Earlier this month, we documented the surging price of fresh produce in Canada, where the plunging loonie is creating a nightmare for shoppers in grocery aisles across the country.

Because Canada imports more than three quarters of its fresh fruits and vegetables, the inexorable decline of the Canadian dollar has driven up prices on everything from cucumbers to cauliflower to tomatoes, and as we showed via a series of tweets from incredulous supermarket shoppers, Canadians are not pleased.

“Three bucks. For a cucumber,” one shopper wrote.

“Had a similar reaction when I saw the price of cauliflower,” another said. “Welcome to the future..”

Yes, “welcome to the future” Canada, because with oil prices set to remain in the doldrums for the foreseeable future, any long-lasting respite for the loonie is probably not in the cards, despite BOC governor Stephen Poloz’s efforts to keep the currency anchored by eschewing the rate cuts needed to keep what remains of the country’s oil patch in business.

On Friday, we got confirmation that all Canadians, not just those in the deep north, are indeed suffering under double-digit inflation at the supermarket when Statistics Canada said the price of fresh fruit has skyrocketed by 12.4% since the end of 2014 while fresh vegetables are up a staggering 14.4%.

“I’ve never seen it that high. It’s usually $6.99, maybe $8 but that seems like quite a jump,” said Sheri Paolatto, a Crossroads Market shopper who was astonished to discover thath a bag of grapefruit now costs nearly $15.

“Tomatoes trade the same as the TSX. It’s a commodity, too, and all produce is traded in U.S. dollars,” Jason Wiebe, president of Chongo’s Market at the Crossroads Farmers Market remarked. “In November, the retail cost of tomatoes on the vine was $1.99 a pound. Now I have to sell the same box at $3.99 pound,” he added.

(Jason Wiebe and his tomatoes)

"Prices for food purchased from stores were up 4.1% year over year in December, following a 3.7% increase the previous month," Statistics Canada's report reads. "The acceleration was mainly attributable to the fresh vegetables and fresh fruit indexes, which rose more on a
year-over-year basis in December than in the previous month."

As a reminder, this all comes courtesy of falling crude prices and the attendant death of the Canadian oil patch. The plunging loonie has added to the woes of a populace already coping with a sharply decelerating economy that, in the hardest hit areas like Alberta, has cause violent crime to spike, suicide rates to soar, and food bank usage to climb by more than a third. 

Paradoxically, the only thing that can save the country's oil producers is a lower CAD. As it stands, the CAD-denominated price of WCS sits about a dollar above the marginal cost of production. Because Canada's producers take in USD for their product but pay their operational costs in CAD, a slumping loonie helps keep the companies in business and thus forestalls even more O&G job losses on top of the 100,000 positions eliminated last year. 

But the CAD's decline also has an impact on consumer confidence and thus on consumer spending. 

Put simply: the BOC is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. 

As for Canadians who enjoy eating fresh fruit and vegetables, the abovementioned Jason Wiebe has some advice: learn to love potatoes. 

"We have a lot more root vegetables being bought. The things that are local and haven’t been impacted by the low dollar, people are making those switch decisions. They’re buying potatoes and carrots instead of guava and mango," Wiebe told the Calgary Herald.

We'll close with a quote from ATB Financial's chief economist Todd Hirsh who notes that things have likely gotten worse since Statistics Canada's assessment, which means Canadians looking to retain the right to eat tomatoes in January need to be prepared to fork it over (food pun not intended):

“Going forward I think we’ll see even higher upward pressure on imported fruits and vegetables. If not for weather conditions, certainly that low Canadian dollar will affect it. Because the numbers we’re talking about today are from December and now in January we’re almost five to six per cent lower on that dollar….If people insist on eating fresh tomatoes and pineapple in January, they’ll be forced to pay for it.”

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44magnum's picture

They can use red food coloring on the potatoes and pretend they are tomatoes.

KesselRunin12Parsecs's picture
KesselRunin12Parsecs (not verified) 44magnum Jan 23, 2016 11:29 AM

So, in this context, should we spell 'SOAR'... #SORE ?

Looney's picture

Canada’s predicament is very similar to Venezuela’s –the same addiction to oil exports, the same socialist dreams.

Though, Canada’s got way more toilet paper, for now…  ;-)


I need more asshats's picture

I live up in Churchill, you should see the prices of produce up here! Jesus motherfucking Christ!

Latina Lover's picture

New Prime Minister of Canada: If there are no Tomatoes,  let them eat Poutine.

Looney's picture

He is a Chelsea Clinton of Canada.  ;-)


Handful of Dust's picture

" If you want to keep eating your tomatoes, you can keep eating your tomatoes."


Canadians need to realize they are now in the "Yes we can" economy up there. It's the same shit we've been experiencing in the States for 7 years.


Rotsa Ruck!

NuckingFuts's picture

Growing vegetables is my main source of income. I am in the Midwest and have 15k sq ft of greenhouse. Not to brag, just to point out I know of which I speak. My point is that Americans and Canadians are so ignorant as to how food production works. The only tomatoes you should be eating in January are those you canned in August when you had an abundance. Don't get me started on berries which realistically have a 4 week window and are done, that's why you freeze them when they are in season. I fear for the future if people think they can buy any produce at any time. At least my kids know better.

Handful of Dust's picture

I used to eat only my Grandma's canned fruits and veggies during the winter, that she prepared the summer before. No pesticides and all I guess you might say, "organic" but I seriously don't think she even knew what that word meant she lived way out in the country.


I agree with you; I get suspicious of some of these things offered 24/7/365

Stuck on Zero's picture

If store bought tomatoes are too expensive try tennis balls filled with wood pulp.  They're tastier and easier to slice.

remain calm's picture

I mean gas is so much more expensive than 2 years ago and those trucks need a lot of gas. Right?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"My point is that Americans and Canadians are so ignorant as to how food production works."

While a bit of an exaggeration, most Americans think their 'food' comes from a grocery store. They have never seen nor stepped foot on a 'farm', but are all quite familiar with the grocery store.

847328_3527's picture

It's EZ for Americans to get them confused; they're both words with four letters and look kinda alike --- farm and food.

fukidontknow's picture

They're going about the calculations all wrong - they need to substitute more sawdust and less beef.

Bad Attitude's picture

Is that a Hedonic Quality adjustment? No net inflation because people stopped liking beef and started liking sawdust.

Forward (over the cliff)!

db51's picture

Who in their right mind would want to eat the nasty shit that is coming in from Mexico, Florida and Hot houses.   Like nutfucker says, raise your own in summer,  can and eat in winter, rinse, lather, repeat.  Last thing I want is a tomatoe covered in some Mexican's feces.    Serioiusly,.

Whalley World's picture

I live south of Vancouver are selling Cauliflowers for $2.49 each
Tomatoes up but we have a major hothouse sector that pumps out cucumbers and tomatos fast enought to keep prices reasonable.

Broken_Trades's picture

^^^ Truth.



These Canadian food price articles are flipping stupid. Even in BC, even in the interior in smaller towns cauliflower is still only 4.00 CAD.

Every Canadian knows vegetables get more expensive in the winter

In Tuktayuktuk it's always winter!

Stop posting BS articles

Get back to stuff you're good at like exposing the banks exposure to junk energy and financial crime.



ceilidh_trail's picture

Anyone notice that the veggies pictured are peppers and not tomatoes? If the author doesn't know this, how well does he know the rest?

ThatGuyEhler's picture

Well, to be fair, it's peppers and tomatoes in the picture. And as much as I'd like to say this is all a lie, try buying Cauliflower for $2.49 in Eastern Canada. Most of PEI/Nova Scotia/New Brunswick is paying at least $8, and similar for other imports. It all depends on location.

mkkby's picture

Easy to tell article is BS.  Never say WHERE these prices are seen.

Prices in small, out of way places are ALWAYS HIGH.

digiblader1's picture

Besides, the next move for the CAD$ will be up--as oil is expected to soar by mid-year due to a collapse in US shale production and likely OPEC production cuts. Some OPEC countries are already wanting higher prices--they can't survive at $30/barrel.

digiblader1's picture

Besides, the next move for the CAD$ will be up--as oil is expected to soar by mid-year due to a collapse in US shale production and likely OPEC production cuts. Some OPEC countries are already wanting higher prices--they can't survive at $30/barrel.

The Deacon's picture




Nevermind the fact that you see the same content in 3-4 different articles each week on ZH now.

Did all the good Russian writers leave?

Did ZH outsource its writing to India?

This site is starting to seem like KWN....always at a fever pitch.  It makes people tone deaf.



I heard a 'respected' dude on youtube saying how hyperinflation as arrived in Canada due to slumping oil prices and a plunging currency.

"They're paying over $30 for LAUNDRY DETERGENT IN CANADA!".

Check some freaking sources 'alternative media' people!



lost in the cosmos's picture

Northern Ontario

Cauliflower currently $2.49

roma tomatoes $1.88/lb

the last article was about prices in Nunavut which somewhere up there around the arctic circle.

FrankDrakman's picture

Churchill is miles from nowhere. Here are prices in Toronto, direct from my grocery flyer:

(major chain, all prices in C$):

6 oz raspberries $1.97

Roma tomatoes (mexico) $0.97/lb

Pears (usa) $0.97/lb

Cauliflower (usa) $2.97

Clementines (morocco) 5 lbs/$3.97

seedless cucumber (mexico) $1.99

Are these prices higher than what I pay in harvest season? Yes. Are they all that different from what I payed last winter? No. 

Canadians are not panicking; we are cringing, after the Dauphin humilates us in Davos, and his wife humiliates us by singing. 

actionjacksonbrownie's picture

Great post - should be at the top.

KansasCrude's picture

Jeeze Frank those prices are cheaper than in the U.S. paid for in USD.   I was at ALDI the other day which has cheaper produce limited selection than our Kroger (Dillons)  and even they were higher by a bit.  If those are in your flyer prices chances are those are deals and maybe loss leaders.  We saw some cheap Chilean raspberries for $.99 and Mexican $1.99 strawberries a couple weeks back now back at $2.99 for 6 oz raspberries or strawberries.  Pears here are $1.99/lb. unless you get them at ALDI's then $ .97.

My wife's family is Canadian and they are more in complaint mode for the last few years about jobs.  Mainly college grad.  business careers 45-61 they are bitching more about being underemployed or unemployed.   Several live in Toronto area and of course Real Estate in nasty expensive


Dental Floss Tycoon's picture

"If people insist on eating fresh tomatoes and pineapple in January, they’ll be forced to pay for it.


The pineapplle season is very short in Canada.


Ignatius's picture

A pineapple in every pot, er... plate.

RichardParker's picture

Here in the midwest. tomatoes are going for about $2-3 a pound for anything that looks half decent.  Three months ago they were about a dollar a pound.  On the other hand, domestic oranges and grapefruit were 49 cents a pound last week (very good quality).  Usually, I try to eat what's in season.

Handful of Dust's picture

Problem is most of the tomatoes are so GMO'd to death they taste like cardboard...but they last forever and never rot. Growing them is not that easy in some parts of the ocuntry. If the cold or heat does not get them, birds or mice will. I admire those who can grow them successfully and taste like a real tomato.

general ambivalent's picture

I've had good luck with Russian varieties. Either plant early and transplant the seedlings or try to time them to start after the first frost in May (usually full moon time, so if it's a late full moon you'll have to have good cover).

They seem to grow really well in hugelkultur beds.

Lurk Skywatcher's picture

But what ever you do dont try to grow Russian tomatoes in nulandcoup beds - they will invade the other beds and the annex the beets!


The Deacon's picture

H of D,


In addition, one must apply hedonics to breadstuffs.  There is GREAT value in buying bread or buns that grow no mould for weeks.  That's hidden value right there.

SuperRay's picture

Paging Chris Martenson....

Escrava Isaura's picture



KesselRunin12Parsecs: So, in this context, should we spell 'SOAR'... #SORE ?


Not soar. ‘Hyper’ HYPER’…………tomato hyperinflation.


You see, Canada doesn’t have the global reserve currency. Also, inflation is a form of control/ration as less food  will be available because there will be less and less oil. And at this aspect, US rocks because US elites know what’s around the corner. And they are preparing.

Minerva Initiative: How the Pentagon is Bracing for Societal Collapse


Mr.Sono's picture

It's still manageable in Canada. But this is just a beginning, I think the stupid Canadians with a over priced mortgage will suffer the most. It's going to be a fun year.

giggler321's picture

Especially for vegetarian home buyers, it's discrimination!

Handful of Dust's picture

I think the fad of paying three times the value for an overprice house is a dying trend up there.

RichardParker's picture

The fad of paying three times the value for an overprice house is a dying trend in The US as well.

Why do you think the MSM pushes tiny houses down our throats?

Handful of Dust's picture

You got that right! Pretty soon my next house will be one of those small shacks they sell outside home depot, you know the ones that are 15x15.

The housing situation is about to get real bad in some parts of the country where they depend on energy/energy-related jobs. My brother lives in Houston and said almost nothing is selling over $500k and he is now seeing lots of very nice homes only 3-4 years old in his very nice neighborhood up for sale ... people in the energy sector--engineers mostly--who have lost their jobs with little sign of recovery in the near or even the mid-term future.


The ones hit hardest are those with 1) little savings; 2) lots of kids; and 3) wife does not work or earn enough to get them by. The recession there is spreading like wildfire but he said the MSM is overall pretty quiet about it.


But when I see those announcements and firings from Schlumberger, HAL, etc, it confirms what he is seeing first-hand. I hear from a friend in Calgary it's pretty much a bloodbath there too.

Mr. President's picture
Mr. President (not verified) 44magnum Jan 23, 2016 1:13 PM

1.99 for tomatoes on the vine? Canadian money? And now finally prices catching up?

Shit I can't remember when tomatoes were 1.99 'American money'. With the exception of sales of course. (And that's new england)

Sounds like they've just had it too good for too long.

Toronto Kid's picture

I had a friend visiting from Texas a few years ago. We went out for coffee and she immediately kicked up a fuss about the blueberry muffins - just had to have one.

I asked why. She replied they didn't have real blueberry blueberry muffins back home. The blueberries were bits of apple dyed blue. But up where I am, the blueberries in the muffin were real blueberries.

There are nearby greenhouses that grow tomatoes and cucumbers locally, but anything that encourages and supports the local farmers isn't such a bad thing. I'm tired of seeing prime farmland, orchards and such, being torn up to plant row upon row of pressboard houses.

general ambivalent's picture

Well, it's a good thing you can no longer buy food.

HenryHall's picture

>> Well, it's a good thing you can no longer buy food.

Plenty of food-like edible processed substances in boxes and cans on the supermarket shelves though.

wildbad's picture

how are the maple syrup prices?