By Monica Kucharski

Are you a big spender on take-out, ready-to-go, and restaurant food?  Well, according to  Canada’s Food Price Report 2018, you will be an even bigger spender next year!

The recently released report says that food prices will be rising between 1 and 3 per cent, which means an increase of $348 for an average family of four for the year.  But about 59 per cent of this hike — $208 to be exact— will be incurred by Canadians eating out and grabbing prepared meals on-the-go.

“Most of (the increase) will come from food service which would make some consumers a bit vulnerable – particularly those who don’t cook or (who) eat out a lot,” said the lead researcher for the report, Sylvain Charlebois, in an interview with The Star.

Why is that?  Well, as with any commodity and service, demand drives the price.  And it seems, more and more of us are opting for convenience when it comes to our meals.

Canadians now spend about 30 per cent of their food budget on dining out and eating prepared meals.  Restaurant owners and prepared food producers are seeing the trend and, entrepreneurially, are increasing their prices.  The price of dining at a restaurant is expected to increase by 4-6 per cent in 2018.

But, if you like to cook from scratch in your own kitchen, you’ll hardly notice any increase in your food bill.  “… if you are cooking and you rely mainly on grocery stores to get your food, you should be in good shape for 2018,” said Charlebois.

Certain categories of foods will become more expensive than others.  Dairy, baked items, seafood, and meats are predicted to rise in price by 2 per cent, and vegetables and fruits are expected to jump by 4-6 percent and 1-3 per cent respectively—largely due the crazy global weather we’ve been seeing.

Still, you can also look forward to a likely food price increase offsetting factor—known as the Amazon factor.  With this retailing giant hurtling full throttle into the groceries industry, other stores will be offering all kinds of discounts to court you as a customer in order to compete.