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Food prices rise
Kimmirut and Kugaaruk record largest jump in costs, according to Nunavut Bureau of Statistics

Karen K. Ho
Northern News Services
Friday, August 28, 2015

Food prices in the territory continue to rise, with some communities experiencing increases well into the double digits.

NNSL photo/graphic

According to a new report from the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics, food prices in the territory rose 5.1 per cent between March 2014 and March of this year. However, NorthWest Company director of business development Derek Reimer said under Nutrition North, prices have actually fallen. - NNSL file photo

That's according to several new reports from the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics, which recently released detailed information about the price differences of specific items often found in communities across in the territory.

This past March, the statistics bureau conducted a food price survey during which the prices of 133 items, including 18 non-food items, were collected by government liaison officers. Only two dozen food items were ultimately charted in the survey based on their consistent availability. These included a two-litre bag of two-per-cent milk, margarine, 12 large eggs, a sack of potatoes, a one-kilogram package of carrots, one kilogram of bananas, a 398-millilitre can of baked beans, one kilogram of ground beef, a 570-gram loaf of white bread, one frozen pizza, 700 grams of instant rice and a 2.5-kilogram package of white flour.

The statistics bureau found that on average, the price of the 24 selected food items increased by 5.1 per cent across the territory between March 2014 and the same time this year. Only four communities, Pangirtung, Sanikiluaq, Pond Inlet and Whale Cove, recorded decreases, while Iglulik's prices were virtually flat.

Notably, nine communities recorded increases of more than eight per cent, with Kimmirut and Kugaaruk experiencing the highest increases of 16.2 per cent and 17.2 per cent respectively.

The bureau's senior analyst and project manager, Vincent Gosselin, told News/North the survey was expanded from 10 communities to all 25 communities this year because the 2014 results were part of a pilot project.

"It gives a rough sense of proportions between the communities and regions," Gosselin said.

The 10 communities from the first initial pilot survey were Iglulik, Pangirtung, Iqaluit, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet, Arviat, Baker Lake, Rankin Inlet, Gjoa Haven and Kugluktuk.

The statistics bureau's report comparing the newest results of these communities to the information recorded in 2013/2014 found that Nunavummiut pay 6.2 per cent more for those 24 selected grocery items. Residents in Gjoa Haven could expect to pay the highest price of $181.83.

Five communities saw their prices increase every year, while only Iglulik saw prices decrease.

Still, Gosselin noted that the large percentages in increases recorded in communities were calculated using a small sample number of items.

"We only have (information on) the straight necessities in the stores," he said. "And when they're small numbers you'll have bigger increases and decreases."

Gosselin also pointed out it was only the third year his department of five staff had been collecting this kind of data.

"We'll start to see a trend in five or 10 years," he said. "We'll see a more complete graph and a better idea of what's going on. We have to be patient and see how things go on."

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