all us paranoid, but we have been anticipating price changes in produce as fruits and vegetables go out of (or come into) season in the region. We live in a continental climate (the one with hot summers and cold winters) which means we have a period where everything grows and then another where everything plays dead.
As the region approaches winter, when fewer local crops can be harvested, we were interested in analyzing how seasonal change might affect the price of produce.
It’s intuitive that as temperatures get colder and fewer items can be grown locally, that the prices would go up for those items which would be in lower supply and for which customers would rely exclusively on imports.
While we found some price variation in produce which could reflect the changing seasons, the picture that is developing is one of a general indifference to seasons, leaving the impression that how we grow food and how we price it may not be as connected as we thought.
Below are some notable price changes (or unchanges) in produce prices between the time periods of September 15 to October 15 and October 16 to today. We will continue to map these trends as they emerge over time.
Out of season
Local strawberries (and the joy they bring) are a fading memory, but you can still find strawberries (usually from California) in stores. We saw a modest increase on 2 lb packages of strawberries between last month and now: approximately $0.03/100g, which comes out to about a quarter more per package.
That being said, in some spots the price of 2 lb packs of strawberries has come down, like at John’s No Frills in North York.
Ontario broccoli can be harvested through November and even later in a mild enough autumn. Despite being in season, the average price of broccoli has gone up by $0.22 at the stores in our database over the last month.
This is a trend we will continue to pay attention to going forward. As our database creator, Eric, says, “Broccoli is becoming more of a special occasion vegetable in my household.”
Carrots are well-adapted to our cool climate. They were in season when we started tracking price data, and remain so today. According to our database, carrots have dropped in price by $0.21/kg between the two time periods.
Our data daddy, Eric, has this to say about carrots: “Carrots are weird and make me nervous when I look at the data. They’re always doing weird things.” This is another item we will be keeping an eye on.
Onions remain in season in the region, but their price has increased by a very small amount. What we found most notable about onion prices right now is their variation in price across stores. In No Frills, we have seen these 3 lb bags listed as low as $2.49, this is the price currently in Luciano’s No Frills (Nov 10). Meanwhile, the best price we have in a Loblaws is $3.49 at Toronto Lakeshore Loblaws
Never been in season
Oranges typically grow in regions that don’t experience a lot of seasonal change in temperature (not here).
While the average price of navel oranges has stayed relatively consistent between the mid-September to mid-October and the mid-October to mid-November time periods, the prices have been fluctuating at different locations.
Particularly notable is the Loblaws Toronto Lakeshore (on Bathurst), where the price per orange has gone up by nearly $0.40. Below is the price history, where the numbers on the graph indicate the listing price, which is an estimate per orange.
Here’s the price history at Loblaw’s Humbercrest Market for comparison.
We’re giving Food Tracker users access to this tool as well. Click on a store and food category and you’ll be able to see the Price History option on individual items. We’re still working out some bugs, but it’s functioning well enough that we feel comfortable sharing it with you all to track the price history of items in your nearest stores.
Of course if you find any issues with the price history tool, reach out to email@example.com