Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday October 8, 2022

Even with rising food costs, many Canadians find Thanksgiving meal traditions tough to break

A recent online Angus Reid survey of 1,244 Canadians that found of those who celebrate Thanksgiving, more than two-thirds will be eating the same food they usually do, even with inflation pushing up the cost of everything from turkey to potatoes. 

Statistics Canada reported on Sept. 20 that inflation is up nearly 11 per cent across all retail food items. One of the main drivers is still supply-chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, complicated by labour shortages. Another factor is Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has driven up commodity prices.

But some traditions are hard to break.

“The majority of Canadians are sticking to traditions. If they plan to host, they probably will have a turkey,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, which had partnered with Angus Reid for the survey. It was conducted in September with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Still, about about one-quarter of Canadians will make some meal adjustments, the survey found. Sylvain noted that lower-income households, which earn less than $50,000 a year, are almost certainly making changes due to higher food prices.

Charlebois said the per-kilogram price of turkey has increased about 16 per cent from this time last year. Potatoes are 22 per cent more expensive. Bacon, ham and chicken cost about 10 per cent more.

“People may decide to opt for a smaller bird. They may decide to perhaps go for a cheaper protein source like chicken or ham,” he said. “Perhaps people will just go for another side instead of potatoes.”

“They’ll plan ahead and they’ll try to stretch their dollar,” Charlebois said.

At a Winnipeg Food Fair, customer Jerry Brown says he’s still after the traditional bird.

“It’s only once a year or twice if you count Christmas. Nice to have a turkey,” he said.

Others are cutting back, like Ciara Maffiola, who said, “I’m not buying a whole turkey. I’m just buying a small turkey breast.”

Food Fair owner Munther Zeid said he’s noticed most people are not spending less, but they are spending differently. For instance, instead of serving a large turkey plus a ham or roast, some are opting for smaller versions of each.

“I’ve never seen increases like this in all my life. I’ve been in this business working with my dad since I was a kid. I basically started part-time in 1983 and I’ve never seen what we’re seeing right now,” he said. (CBC) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/thanksgiving-turkey-price-1.6609059

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