SYDNEY, NS –
While food prices are generally rising, the Canadian Dairy Commission recommends a 8.4 percent increase in the cost of milk for processors.
That is more than the 7.4 percent it has increased in the last five years combined, which means that the price of a carton of milk may soon rise by a historic amount.
“The previous record was about 4.52 percent,” said agri-food expert Sylvain Charlebois.
An 8.4 percent increase in milk sold to retailers and restaurants would be almost double.
Charlebois says this is the highest recommendation he has seen in the 54-year history of the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC).
As dairy farmers are expected to get more than 12 percent more for butter, he says it will all have a big impact on consumers in the new year.
“We expect increases of an average of 8 to 10 percent retail from February 2022,” Charlebois said. “In terms of dairy products, this increase can actually exceed 12, 13, 15 percent even.”
Marco Amati, the daily manager of Loaves & Fishes’ communal kitchen in Sydney, is preparing for tougher times.
“It’s going to be tough,” Amati said.
Whether it’s a few liters of milk, or the frozen goods they buy in bulk, those who run Loaves & Fishes shop everywhere for a good deal these days, but can not reach a break.
They will rely more than usual on donations in the coming colder months.
But no matter how hard it is for them, it is even harder for those who eat here.
“We’re going to see our numbers go up because people need that meal – the hot meal,” Amati said. “And thank God we’re here to do it. So it’s going to be a tough winter.”
At a plant-based restaurant just down the road from Loaves & Fishes, there could be a golden edge to all of this.
“There’s literally no better time than now – to make that shift,” said Joey Matheson, co-owner of JJ’s Plant-Based Eats.
Since opening, they have had to deal with the stigma that it costs more to eat healthier.
Now their hope is that if more grocers avoid meat and dairy products to save a few bucks, some of them may become new customers in a place like this.
“But if we see an increase in people switching more to plants and vegetables, we’ll obviously see an increase here in business, and that’s great,” Matheson said.
Charlebois says that if Canadian milk is priced out of the market, we could see production consolidated even more from Quebec and Ontario.
“I am very concerned about the future of dairy in this country, and in particular in the Atlantic,” Charlebois said.
That would be bad news for milk producers here at Søfarten.
“By 1980, we had over 800 milk producers in Nova Scotia,” he said. “We are down to 250 now. It will not help.”
The new prices will not become official until they have been approved by the provincial authorities. A decision is likely to come early next month.