Canadian Meat Council calls food pricing report 'misleading'

The Canadian Food Price Report for 2019 was unveiled this week, and the findings raised the eyebrows of many, including those within the Canadian Meat Council (CMC). The report was put out by the University of Guelph and the University of Dalhousie.

The two schools cite the price of meat is set to decline as more people are choosing plant-based proteins.

We are seeing meat prices decline while plant-based proteins are on the rise, in addition to seafood price fluctuations due to availability, quality and traceability of certain imported products. Despite the anticipated negative numbers for these two categories, overall food prices are expected to rise up to 3.5% in 2019. This represents a slight increase from last year.

Using numbers from Statistics Canada, the CMC says data shows meat consumption by Canadians has decreased steadily between 2004 to 2015 — and not suddenly because of any specific dietary trends. The group adds that the current beef demand index is strong and only shows a decrease of two per cent for this year as it continues to maintain levels not seen since the late 1980s.

“The report is misleading and makes assumptions that meat prices in Canada could go down because of demand and new market entries, when in fact many factors need to be considered,” says Chris White, president of the CMC.

“The global spike in meat prices in 2013-14 drove world wide meat production expansion. Increased supply has allowed prices to begin to decline across the world including in Canada,” he adds.

The CMC goes on to say market pressures, such as feed prices and other factors, can also affect the price of animals, and this trickles down to the retail price of meat. Adding that despite recent price decreases in beef by 4.2 per cent over last October, prices throughout 2018 have been higher than the five-year average, with prices also being pressured by higher domestic beef supply, as opposed to a decrease in demand.

Highlighting a different poll conducted in 2017, the CMC pointed out, of 1,000-plus Canadians surveyed, 72 per cent of respondents reported eating three or less servings of meat a week and that, three out of four respondents understand the important role that red meat plays in getting essential nutrients for health.

The 2019 version is the ninth edition of the report.

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