Following the recent release of Canada’s Food Guide, Dalhousie University launched a survey to judge awareness, understanding, and affordability of the new guide.
Led by Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, senior director at the Dalhousie University Agrifood Analytics Lab, the study suggests that although more than one-quarter of those surveyed say the new Food Guide recommendations are not affordable, the second part of this study showed that a family of four will save, on average, 6.8% on their annual grocery bill if they prepare food at home using the new guidelines. This is based on a cost comparison of foods and proportions recommended by both the 2007 and 2019 versions of the guide.
Much of the affordability comes from the added focus on increased vegetable portion sizes and decreased emphasis on meat, however, the study organizers forecast that as more Canadians adopt an increasingly plant-based diet, the demand for fruits and vegetables may go up. This could lead to price increases or price volatility, causing that savings margin to narrow or even disappear, the researchers say.
“The new food guide points to the issue of productivity in Canada,” says Charlebois. “If we don’t increase our production capacity for fruits and vegetables, more Canadian families will likely become food insecure over time.”
While 30% of Canadians have viewed or referenced Canada’s Food Guide in the last 12 months, survey participants put the Food Guide in sixth place for sources of healthy eating advice, after family and friends, general research, social media, cookbooks and magazines, and TV programs. Almost two-thirds of participants had not used the Food Guide in the last 12 months. Younger consumers identified that they get much of their food advice from food bloggers and celebrities.
Hear more between Sylvain Charlebois and Shaun Haney, below:
Added findings include that a majority of Canadians (52.4%) say they face barriers to adopting the new guide, with a perception of a more expensive plate, and about 20% of respondents say the recommendations in the new guide don’t fit their taste preferences. About 20% of respondents also said that the guide either doesn’t reflect their dietary needs or that preparing the recommended foods would be too time-consuming.
The study was conducted over two days in February 2019. It surveyed 1,071 people across the country, including Québec, in both English and French.