Pandemics and panic: How will coronavirus impact domestic food prices?

If the empty space on grocery store shelves that used to hold toilet paper and hand sanitizer are any indication, consumer panic has set in regarding the potential impact of coronavirus. While stocking up on essentials may be a predictable response, the effect this disease may have on domestic and international food supply chains is only now beginning to play out.

Kevin Grier, of Kevin Grier Market Analysis and Consulting, says that the cattle market has already lost a significant chunk of profit to market moves going against the cattle trade. If wholesale prices tumble, as we’ve seen, will consumers see lower prices at the grocery store?

Not so fast, says Grier, as the decrease in commodity prices is more likely to play out as an opportunity for the retail side to capture profits, and set up some decent grocery features after the Easter break.

That said, Grier points out that there is a relationship between commodity market dynamics and retail prices — though many farmers may be hard-pressed to believe it — so a softer commodity market could mean lower grocery bills for Canadians, eventually.

Competition in the market place is also coming to bear, as the wrestling match for market share between the Wal-Marts and Costcos of the world and traditional grocery stores continues. Grier says the numbers certainly suggest that bargain locations, such as No Frills and FreshCo, are gaining ground too.

Listen on to hear the full market analysis, production numbers, and highlights of the latest grocery price report:

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