Grocery prices spiked in February even as inflation cooled: StatCan

FILE-Higher grocery prices are expected to hit some stores in Canada soon as a blackout on price increases over the holiday season comes to an end. A person leaves a Toronto supermarket with groceries on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Lupul

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The annual rate of inflation calmed down last month even though Canadian grocery prices continued to rise, Statistics Canada’s latest report says.

Food prices at grocery stores were up 10.6 per cent year-over-year in February, marking the seventh consecutive month of double-digit increases, according to the report released on Tuesday.

This figure is up slightly from the 10.4 per cent annual increase seen in January. 

READ MORE: ​​Canadian grocery store CEOs to testify on rise of food prices in Parliament

Food items including cereal products, sugar and confectionery, and fish and seafood rose on a year-over-year basis last month.

Fruit juices increased 15.7 per cent in February compared to a year ago, after a 5.2 per cent gain in January. This was primarily due to higher costs for orange juice, as orange supplies were impacted by climate-related events, like Hurricane Ian. 

However, food prices for items such as vegetables, bakery products and meat slowed on a year-over-year basis in February compared to January. 

READ MORE: Bank of Canada holds key interest rate at 4.5 per cent

Overall, the rate of inflation in Feb. cooled to 5.2 per cent from 5.9 per cent in Jan. 

The year-over-year deceleration in February 2023 was due to a base-year effect, for the second consecutive month, which is attributable to a steep monthly increase in prices in February 2022 (+1.0%),” StatCan said in its report. 

“While inflation has slowed in recent months, having increased 1.2% compared with 6 months ago, prices remain elevated. Compared with 18 months ago, for example, inflation has increased 8.3%,” it added.

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