Veggie prices shoot up 11.9% in B.C. as inflation rises in May

The consumer price index rose 0.9% across the country in the 12 months to May, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday (June 19). 

Fresh vegetable prices were up 11.9% in B.C. last month compared with a year prior.

Eating healthy has gotten more expensive for British Columbians this past year as rising fresh vegetable prices led the way in last month’s inflation bump.

The consumer price index rose 0.9% across the country in the 12 months to May, according to Statistics Canada data released Friday (June 19).

In B.C., where inflation rose 0.8%, the price of fresh vegetables shot up 11.9% following a 4.8% jump in April.

Across Canada, consumers paid 3.8% more for food last month than they did a year prior.

"Food costs have been trending near, or above 4% for the past several months, and highlight how a cheaper Canadian dollar is boosting imported prices," CIBC economist Nick Exarhos wrote in note to investors.

Alcohol and tobacco (+3.9%), household equipment (+3.4%) and recreational expenses (+1.9%) also led the gains in consumer prices.

The only category that experienced a decrease in inflation was transportation costs, which fell 3.5% due to cheap oil prices compared with the year before.

Gasoline fell 17.4% between May 2014 and May 2015, while energy dropped 11.8%.

“While oil prices remain low, gasoline prices are mounting a spirited comeback and look to push inflation a bit higher yet in coming months,” BMO chief economist Douglas Porter said in note to investors.

On a month-to-month basis, prices rose higher in B.C. than any other province outside of Atlantic Canada.

Like the year-over-year figure, inflation was up 0.8% from April to May in B.C.

Meanwhile, Statistics Canada also reported retail sales fell 0.1% to $42.5 billion in April compared with the month before.

The closures of Future Shop and timing of new product releases pushed sales at electronics and appliances stores down 8.8% in April but sales at furniture and home furnishing stores managed to make a 3.4% gain.

torton@biv.com

@reporton