University of Guelph Study finds high produce prices affect consumer habits

supermarket vegetables

(Photo: Ryan J.Lane via Huffington Post)

A recent study from the University of Guelph has revealed that the continual rise of produce prices are driving consumers to make changes in their diets. The study was conducted by  Sylvain Charlebois, who was a UofG professor of marketing and consumer studies at the time of the study, along with marketing and consumer studies professor Lianne Foti and U of G’s food institute, Maggie McCormick.

In the past year, produce prices have risen substantially with an average increase of 14%, while fruit has risen 11%. This has driven consumers to alter their buying habits and even cut back on the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they buy.

“In some locations, Canadian consumers have seen prices jump by more than 25 per cent,” Charlebois told University of Guelph News.

The trio of researchers ran a survey-based study last May of 1000 people across Canada. Factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, age and education were considered in addition to behavioural aspects.

Over 26% of participants reported reducing their intake of fruits and vegetables while 66% said that cost prevented them from buying one specific fruit or vegetable. Around 45% stated they had replaced fresh fruits or vegetables with juice, frozen fruits or vegetables.

“This study demonstrates some level of vulnerability by consumers when looking at vegetable and fruit affordability,” Foti explained. “It’s reflective of how vulnerable the Canadian economy is to macroeconomic conditions affecting the price of imported food products.”

The research was presented on June 6th, at the annual Food and Agriculture Business Seminar.

Read more about the study here.

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