Some Canadians are turning to frozen fruits and vegetables as well as juice as an alternative to buying fresh produce as prices continue going up. A study conducted at the University of Guelph found that fresh vegetables have increased in price by an average of 14 per cent and fruit has increased by an average of 11 per cent in the last year.

The study examined the produce buying habits of over 1,000 people across Canada, reporting that 45 per cent of people are buying juice and frozen fruits and vegetables rather than fresh produce due to the cost, with 26 per cent of Canadians overall consuming less produce.

 “I’ve read studies where dieticians state that you can go either way — fresh or frozen — as long as they’re consuming fruits and vegetables,” said Liane Foti, assistant professor of marketing and consumer studies at Guelph University and co-author of the study. According to the study, those with higher incomes and those who are more educated were more likely to find substitutions for expensive fresh produce, such as buying frozen fruits and vegetables. However those with a lower income were more likely to go a different route.

“We did see that when we looked at demographic information as well as number of visits to stores that low income housing saw more reduction in produce and were more likely to substitute with fruit juice,” said Foti, adding that those who are less educated and younger in age were also more likely to stop buying produce. Foti stressed the importance of using apps and fliers before going shopping to get the best prices possible when it comes to fresh produce. According to her, those who did not use fliers and apps in the study were more likely to avoid produce that they thought was more expensive, like cauliflower.

At the time of the study, the price of cauliflower had not yet skyrocketed to $5 to $6 a head like they did in January 2016, but people who did not use fliers and apps were still avoiding the vegetable because they believed it was expensive. “It’s important to know what you’re shopping for and have an idea of what the price is right now of, say, a cucumber,” said Foti. “It’s important to understand that when going into a store.”

The most common fresh produce that people have stopped buying due to cost are broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, oranges, and apples, with apples alone having jumped 23.4 per cent in price in the last year, according to Statistics Canada. Experts believe that food inflation in Canada will surpass the general food inflation. Fresh produce prices are expected to rise between two to four per cent in the next year.