Thursday, February 2

Posthaste: This year’s Christmas feast is going to cost you


No part of the classic festive meal is immune to inflation

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Good morning!

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Not to dampen the holiday spirit, but thanks to inflation, Canadians should expect some sticker shock at their holiday dinner table this year.

“Inflation is everywhere. Christmas dinner is no exception,” the CD Howe Institute said in a cost snapshot of the classic yuletide feast. “Prices rose across the board between October 2020 and 2021 and most festive dinner staples accelerated further one to year later 2022,” the Toronto-based think-tank said in a press release.

CD Howe crunched the costs of poultry, potatoes, bread, butter, fresh vegetables and cranberries using Statistics Canada data from October, the most recently available numbers. Prices for many items increased by double-digits, the think-tank’s report said.

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Butter rose 20 per cent in October 2022 from a year earlier, after increasing roughly five per cent the year before. Bread prices also tracked at double-digit increases, up 17 per cent from October 2021.

Those costs will be felt beyond the side plate, since butter is a main ingredient in a variety of culinary methods from baking to basting. Also, many households use bread to stuff their birds, though to be clear, stuffing wasn’t included in CD Howe’s food basket.

A pot of mashed potatoes will also hit your pocketbook as the cost of the root vegetables, along with fresh vegetables, rose 11 per cent year over year in October.

Even cranberries — the fruitcake of Christmas condiments — weren’t spared. The cost of jams, jellies and preserves jumped 17 per cent in October after rising by eight per cent the year before.

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The general category of poultry rose the least, up seven per cent year over year and nine per cent in 2021.

Though CD Howe didn’t break out the price of turkey, other data indicate prices for the dinner centrepiece were up significantly in October. A fresh whole turkey cost $6.60 per kilogram, up 19 per cent from the $5.46 per kg Canadians paid last October, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The per-kilo price of frozen turkeys rose as well, climbing to $7.52 per kg in October from 4.44 per kg the same time last year, a massive 51 per cent increase.

Canadians have been grappling with soaring grocery bills this year, with prices for food purchased from stores growing 11 per cent Year over year in October, Statistics Canada reported in November.

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With increases like that, many people likely have lower food prices on their Christmas wish lists. So, is there a chance they’ll be granted some relief?

“What we are dealing with is the whole year of increases. It would have to be a pretty big drop to wipe out many months of price increases,” said Benjamin Dachis, associate vice-president of public affairs at the CD Howe Institute.

Bah, humbug.

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The United States Federal Reserve raised interest rates by half a percentage point on Wednesday and projected at least an additional 75 basis points of increases in borrowing costs by the end of 2023 as well as a rise in unemployment and a near stalling of economic growth. US central bank’s projection of the target federal funds rate rising to 5.1 per cent in 2023 is slightly higher than investors expected heading into this week’s two-day policy meeting and appeared biased if anything to move higher.

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— Reuters

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  • Pascale St Onge, minister of sport and minister responsible for CED; Steven MacKinnon, chief government whip and Liberal MP for Gatineau; and Sophie Chatel, Liberal MP for Pontiac, will announce an action plan with new commitments to support the green transition of Quebec’s small and medium-sized enterprises
  • The Canadian Space Agency will hold a media briefing following the launch of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. The briefing will focus on Canada’s contribution and science objectives
  • Environmental Defense and Keepers of the Water will be holding a press briefing at COP15 about the current and looming threats oils and tailings pose to the biodiversity of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the second-largest freshwater delta in the world
  • Nature Canada hosts two panel events at COP15. The panels will offer audiences the opportunity to hear multiple perspectives on what it will take to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030 across Canada, paving the way for nature’s full recovery by 2050. Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault is expected to attend and will respond to panellists’ interventions and offer remarks on Canada’s commitment to developing a high ambition national action plan to halt and reverse nature loss
  • The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions will announce the minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages
  • The Senate committee on foreign affairs and international trade will hear from International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Minister Mary Ng regarding their study on the Canadian foreign service and elements of the foreign policy machinery within Global Affairs Canada
  • Rotman FinHub and Capital Markets Institute host an event on Canadian crypto regulation. This half-day event will examine the Canadian regulatory approach to crypto assets, considering its benefits and costs, and comparing its approach globally. The event will bring together regulators, platform operators and academics, with knowledge of the Canadian and global crypto asset environment
  • Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley delivers a keynote address to the Calgary business community on her vision for an inclusive and prosperous economy. A fireside chat with Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Chamber CEO, follows
  • The Gitxaala Nation holds a press conference related to Gitxaala’s ongoing legal challenge over BC’s mineral tenure regime. Thursday is the start of the intervener hearings in the case
  • Today’s data: Canadian housing starts, existing home sales, MLS home price index, employment insurance data; US initial jobless claims, retail sales, Philadelphia Fed index, Empire State manufacturing survey
  • Earnings: Empire Co. Ltd., Adobe Inc., Transat AT Inc., Enwave Corp.

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Today’s Posthaste was written by Gigi Suhanic (@gsuhanic), with additional reporting from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.

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