GET DOWN: Bumpy road as economy grapples with post-pandemic woes

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Canadians may be breathing a sigh of relief at the news that control of the pandemic is finally loosening, but let’s not get the champagne out just yet. Its tentacles continue to burrow into all facets of the country’s economy, making toilet paper use at the start of the pandemic child’s play compared to the tsunami of shortages and price increases that threaten to roll the earth soon.

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The ripple effect is already happening: dramatic increases in essentials like food and fuel, more and more empty store shelves, restaurants hit by massive increases in bulk ingredients, and a lack of help everywhere is just the tip of the iceberg with which Canadians will face off in the coming months.

Creating fear and loathing on the shopping front can flare in the face of the economy if there is a problem with the basic basics, like the drama above that was created when stores ran out of flour, yeast, and toilet paper at the beginning of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, thousands of shipping containers full of much-needed products are floating across the continent with nowhere to park and, thanks to a lack of manpower, no one to empty them and deliver them to their destinations.

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Investigations show that some containers have been abandoned by companies that went bankrupt while waiting for the goods to arrive. There are many things floating around without anyone claiming them.

“It’s a real show,” said a frustrated food wholesaler who asked that his name not be used. “We used to rent a container for around $ 2,500 and fill it with food shipped from Europe. Now the prices have risen to over $ 11,000 for the same container and there are delays in getting them here … we may not be able to get all of our holiday items here in time. “

One company that brought home décor from China said it used to rent containers for “about $ 5,000. Now we have seen that the price exceeds $ 20,000 for that same container. “

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Joe Vitale, founder of the renowned Italpasta, says that “there is not only a shortage of packaging, but the prices of food products are skyrocketing. Pasta is still the cheapest dish you can put on the table, but the price of Canadian grits has gone up.

“What used to cost me 30 cents is now 60 cents, overnight!”

Everything is going up, other officials in the food wholesale business said. “The price of glass bottles (to fill with pasta sauce) has gone up, even the corrugated cardboard to pack these things has skyrocketed.”

From creating a product, to the ingredients that make it up, to the packaging used to hold it all together, and then its journey to the consumer has been fraught with unprecedented challenges never seen before on such a massive scale.

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Food prices continue to rise nationwide: Statistics Canada reports that the consumer price index for food has risen 2.7% in the past year alone. Meanwhile, a recent report from Dalhousie University College of Agriculture (Agri-Foods) puts Canada’s food inflation rate closer to five percent.

Restaurateurs struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic have also seen dramatic increases in the prices of staples such as bread and cooking oil.

“I used to buy a large container of olive oil for $ 16. Now, in a matter of weeks, that same container is costing me $ 48,” said a restaurant owner in North York.

Gina, who runs a popular hot table with a sit-down in an Etobicoke mall, says cooking oil “used to cost me $ 17.18 for a 20-liter container. Now it costs me between $ 43 and $ 48. Canned tomatoes, which used to cost me $ 24 per box, now cost me between $ 32 and $ 36 per box. And the cheese is through the roof: a 2.2kg bag of Mozarella, which used to cost me $ 28, now costs $ 38. Takeout containers are up, bags are up. Even the cost of delivery has increased; Before, wholesalers delivered orders for free, now they are applying shipping costs. “

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A restaurant’s profit margin “would be between 32% and 38%,” Gina said. “Now it is down to 18%. My accountant urges me to raise my prices to reflect what is happening financially. However, this will affect the customers who walk through my doors. “

Many restaurants are absorbing some costs, but at the end of the day, many will have to raise their prices to survive, says Chris Elliott, a senior economist at Restaurants Canada.

Why is all this happening? Several macro factors are contributing to our food prices right now, says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Dalhousie University Agri-Food Analysis Laboratory. “The effects of the pandemic have been going on for a while, but now we are starting to see the effects. We also have to take into account how Mother Nature has impacted all food sources. “

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Add to that that “we are marching toward a barrel of oil at $ 100. US. Things are going to get worse before they get better,” says Charlebois, adding that “the food industry has given the consumer a break, but now things are going to get better … we are only two or three out of nine in dramatic swings in food inflation in Canada before things settle down. “

We live in extraordinary times with extremes on both sides. On the one hand, there are the dramatic price increases and shortages. On the other hand, warehouse and factory personnel positions are simply asking to be replaced, yet a company official said it is difficult to get help. “We advertised between $ 17 and $ 19 an hour plus benefits to work in our warehouse,” said an executive at a food company. “Ten people responded, one person came forward and was not interested.”

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A drive along a stretch of industrial buildings in north Etobicoke saw signs calling for help: a huge banner advertised $ 23.95 an hour plus a $ 1,000 signing bonus. A recent search for warehouse positions on Google revealed an increase in everything from shippers to forklift drivers, with prices starting at $ 16 and up.

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“The entire world economy is out of sync because of COVID,” says Charlebois. “Some parts of the economy are doing much better than others, and yet … established protocols make logistics much more complicated.”

Meanwhile, “consider that the price increases are a reflection of what is happening to the Canadian economy,” says Vitale. “And local support. It is crucial to the economic recovery that we all need. “

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Reference-torontosun.com

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