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Canadians will spend more at the grocery store in 2016

Canadians got a nasty Christmas present this year — news that their grocery bills are about to spike.

Food prices are expected to climb as much as 4 per cent across the country, according to projections by The Food Institute at the University of Guelph. And this is the icing on the cake for many Canadians, as consumers and grocery stores have already had to deal with 2015 price increases over the holiday season.

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Which foods will be most expensive?

If you’re a meat lover, you might want to sit down, because meat is expected to get as much as 4.5 per cent more expensive. And vegans, hold those smug smiles: The price of fruits and nuts is expected to increase the same amount as well, while vegetables could get 4 per cent more expensive, and the price of grains could climb 2 per cent.

And if you love fish? Expect up to a 3 per cent price increase. Dairy and egg lovers get off a little easier but should still brace for up to a 2 per cent price increase. These price increases will be reflected on restaurant menus, so eating out could get up to 3.5 per cent more expensive too.

This may sound like peanuts to some of you, but the price hikes do add up. The average household is expected to spend $345 more stocking up on food in 2016 — not welcome news for Canadians on a budget.

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Why is this happening?

The Food Institute blames factors such as El Niño’s effect on our climate, the tanking Canadian dollar and changing consumer trends, such as an increased focus on the welfare of animals and demand for transparency from our food suppliers.

What do Canadians have to say?

Food prices in 2015 already climbed 4 per cent, so many Canadians are feeling the effects on their wallets already.

“It’s crazy. It’s 30 years I’m in the business. I’ve never seen prices like that,” Quebec grocery store owner Javed Iqbal Sheik told told CBC recently. He said that while just last year he sold a head of cauliflower for under $2, he’s had to raise the price recently to as much as $8, which is totally nuts. He points out that many consumers aren’t interested in paying the higher prices and choose to go without their usual products: “Iceberg lettuce is $70 a box. Usually it’s $28 a box… There are people willing to pay, but the majority, no. They say, ‘Forget it.'”

Winnipeg grocery store manager Edward Cantor expressed similar concerns: “Broccoli is a bad one right now. It’s almost over the $3 mark,” he told Global News. Cantor says food prices have gone up “dramatically” for his store.

And Nova Scotia shoppers have had to deal with extra mounting grocery bills due to weather. Those who were shopping at a Halifax-area Superstore recently may have even noticed a sign attempting to explain the price hikes.

“Due to weather related issues in the growing regions coupled with the impact of U.S. exchange,” read the sign, “we are unfortunately experiencing significantly higher than normal costs and gaps in supply.”

So if you’re stressing this holiday season, maybe it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. The price of seafood may be going up, but who cares when you can swap out that sushi for some mouthwatering Spam musubi. There’s always a silver lining somewhere, right?

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