Montreal, Quebec, November 14, 2023 – For over 70 years, Alima, Perinatal Social Nutrition Centre (Alima), formerly known as the Montreal Diet Dispensary, has been observing and documenting food price variations in Montreal. Once again this year, Alima is putting its expertise to good use by producing data for its Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket (NAFB), a tool that estimates the minimum cost of a balanced grocery spend covering the nutritional needs of the population. According to the data collected between October 2022 and July 2023, the minimum annual cost of a healthy diet was estimated at $14,137.27 for a family of four in Montreal, which is $9.68 per person per day. In less than a year, the price of the Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket grew 8%. With all the increases since October 2021 combined, this represents an increase of almost 25% for the same family in less than two years.
The results of the 2022–2023 NAFB report
Collected each quarter, in October 2022 and January, April and July 2023, the data presented is from price surveys at selected standard and discount food retailers in Lachine. The results were obtained by taking into account the price of food, as well as the quantity of food required to meet the nutritional needs of a typical family comprising a man, a woman, a little girl and a teenage boy. A total of 68 staple foods were selected for their nutritional value and low cost, taking into account the consumption habits of the Quebec population. This report is made up of 11 food categories: fruits, vegetables, grain products, dairy products and plant-based beverages, starchy foods, animal protein, plant-based protein, sugars, fats, commercial infant formula and baby cereal.
Some data from the report for the assessed period:
- Grain products, vegetables and baby cereal are the categories that saw the biggest increases, at 12%, 17% and 23% respectively.
- The rise in the cost of grain products was mainly due to the price of refined grains (+19%).
- Fresh vegetables prices rose (21%), which had an impact on the vegetable category (17%). Frozen or canned vegetable prices also increased, but moderately by 10%. Fresh fruit prices held steady, but this was not the case for frozen fruit, which rose gradually by 12%.
- Prices remained relatively stable in the animal protein category (meat, fish and eggs)—rising by less than 10%—a scenario similar to that for plant-based proteins, although the legume sub-category increased by 18%.
- Despite the increase in certain food prices, the data show that plant-based protein sources and dairy products remained an affordable choice compared to animal proteins such as meat and fish, when looking at the price per kilogram (almost twice as expensive).
The results presented in the 2022–2023 NAFB report highlight a significant increase in the cost of food over time, reflecting the food insecurity to which more and more low-income households are exposed. The cost of groceries represents around 45% of the income of a family living on welfare. In addition to making more restrictive choices, a growing number of these families may have to reduce the quantities of food they can afford to buy. As a result, serious repercussions on physical and psychosocial health can occur, putting the health of women during pregnancy and their baby at risk. A portrait of food insecurity in Montreal reveals that, in 2020, nearly 300,000 people were already living in a food-insecure household.
“Given the current economy and socio-political issues, access to healthy food is becoming even more precarious, particularly for pregnant women, single-parent families, new mothers and their infants. For families living in vulnerable situations, pregnancy is already a stressful time, but the concern about access to sufficient food adds extra pressure. For this reason, Alima is fully committed to its mission of supporting vulnerable pregnant women through perinatal social nutrition, with the aim of giving their babies every opportunity to fully develop.”
– Julie Paquette, MBA, P.Dt., Executive Director of Alima
“As a nutritionist, I see on a daily basis the pressing needs of pregnant women and new mothers for a healthy, balanced diet. Every year, Alima helps hundreds of vulnerable pregnant women adequately feed themselves during pregnancy and give birth to healthy babies. Requests for support continue to grow, increasing 49% compared to the same period last year. This suggests a real upsurge in food insecurity in Quebec.”
– Suzanne Lepage, P.Dt., Nutritionist and Perinatal Social Nutrition Practice Coordinator at Alima
Alima would like to thank its partners for their support in carrying out this mandate, including Centraide of Greater Montreal and the Ministry of Health and Social Services (Quebec).
For more information, visit www.centrealima.ca.
About the NAFB by Alima, Perinatal Social Nutrition Centre
Alima has been a well-established community organization since 1879. A pioneer in perinatal social nutrition in Quebec, every year it supports hundreds of vulnerable pregnant women, giving their babies every opportunity to fully develop. Its unique expertise, combining experience and best practices, is sought after not only in perinatal care, but also in food safety.
Alima is also responsible for the Nutritious and Affordable Food Basket (NAFB), a tool for monitoring the cost of a healthy diet, used by academics, community organizations and the public.
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For information or to schedule an interview:
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DRSP CCSMTL (Direction régionale de santé publique, CIUSSS du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de Montréal). Portrait of food insecurity in Montreal in 2020. [forthcoming]