The price of nutrient-dense staple foods rises 25% in two years

In two years, the price of baby cereals has increased by 66%, that of vegetables by 23% and that of cereal products by 45%. That means good food – and enough food – now costs $9.68 per day per Quebecer, a 25% increase in 24 months.

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For a family of four, the monthly grocery price is $1,178.11, calculates the Montreal Diet Dispensary, now called Alima. As of October 2021, it was $940.57.

Alima does not calculate this price based on the basic basket that we are used to. This is the minimum price for a balanced grocery store that covers basic food needs.

Its PPNE – nutritious and economical shopping basket – consists of 68 foods selected based on their nutritional value, affordability and the consumption habits of the Quebec population.

There are fresh carrots and onions as well as rice, tofu, tuna, eggs, chicken thighs, minced meat, brick mozzarella, etc.

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“It is not normal that people in the society in which we live do not have the opportunity to eat enough,” complains Julie Paquette, director of Alima.

Her organization only helps pregnant women in need. In 2022, his team followed 720 women. In the first six months of 2023 alone, Alima’s nutritionists followed 620 women.

“Pregnancy is a crucial time for both the baby and the woman. We cannot afford to tell them to come back and visit us in six months,” emphasizes Ms. Paquette.

Like everyone

In the long term, she said, Quebec needs policy programs that increase the population’s purchasing power when it comes to food.

Even though they are not part of Alima’s clientele, Joanie Clément and Steve Jolicoeur are in complete agreement.

The elementary school teacher and the machinist in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac have been paying $50 to $100 more per week for the same shopping basket for the past 12 months.

“We rarely get by on less than $250 a week. And we’re not doing anything crazy,” shouts Joanie.

She cooks more, like everyone else. “The picnic was popular this summer,” she says with a laugh, explaining that the restaurant has become more than a luxury.

They make their list before they go to the grocery store and stick to it as much as possible.

“Every now and then I cook with my best friend. We buy in bulk and cook for our two families. It’s cheaper,” says the mother of two.

Not like everyone else

As far as Alima’s ever-growing customer base is concerned, the situation is critical.

“They have been eating less, but some of them are not eating anymore,” assures Julie Paquette.

The increase of $284 per year per person for nutrient-dense staple foods is just more bad news in this context.

In collaboration with Mathieu Boulay

Significant increases

From October 2021 to July 2023

Baby food: + 66%

Cereal products: + 45%

Vegetables: + 23%

Source: Alima

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