Field Agent Canada conducted a cross-country price survey on fluid milk prices at 175 retailers in 19 markets from coast-to-coast between November 23 and November 28, 2015. For the second consecutive year, the survey uncovered some huge differences in the price Canadians are paying for one of the most basic grocery items – 2% Milk.
“There continues to be a huge disparity in milk prices in Canada with the most expensive market paying almost double what consumers are paying in the cheapest market.” says Jeff Doucette, General Manager of Field Agent Canada.
In addition, the average price per litre has gone up 3 cents in 2015 compared to our 2014 survey. “Potentially consumers will get a bit of a break once international competition in the dairy sector opens up under the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal which was recently announced.” hopes Doucette.
Quite surprisingly the least expensive city to purchase milk in Canada is Sudbury, Ontario. “Sudbury seems to have a very competitive retail marketplace at the moment and milk is a key traffic driver for retailers. Retailers want to have great milk prices because they make an impression on the rest of the store.” said Doucette.
Again in 2015, the most expensive city to purchase milk in Canada was St. John’s, Newfoundland. “Average milk prices have come down about 7% in St. John’s vs. last year as the two major dairies have ramped up competition in this market.” explained Doucette. “The main issue in the Newfoundland market is that milk cannot be purchased in 4L packages, making this market unique in Canada. Shoppers do not have the option to buy bigger packages to save money at the checkout.”
Indeed, all four Atlantic provinces are paying high prices for 2% milk; with prices being 23-47% higher than the Canadian average. Prices in Charlottetown, PEI were just marginally cheaper than those in St. John’s, NL.
Surprisingly, both Quebec City and Laval which are in the relatively large Quebec market (and the home of the two largest dairy manufacturers – Agropur & Saputo) have prices that are 30% higher than the Canadian average.
Where is the cheapest overall milk in Canada? If you shop at Costco in Windsor, London or Nepean, Ontario, you are in luck! These stores has the lowest price for a 4L of 2% milk at just $3.89 per unit.
“It appears that provincial supply management and inter-provincial trade barriers are causing consumers to pay more to subsidize the profits of small or inefficient producers, manufacturers and distributors.” stated Doucette. “There really seems to be some potential for a national milk strategy to make our industry more competitive and give consumers a break at the cash register.”
With the new Liberal government evaluating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal that was announced during the Federal election, and the pending free trade deal with the European Union, we may be poised to finally see shift in the price of milk in the Canadian market. “Countries like New Zealand and the Netherlands have developed their dairy industry to be driven by exports and Canadian consumers would likely benefit from the liberalisation of the dairy market in Canada.” stated Doucette. “The Canadian Dairy industry should work to tear down inter-provincial trade barriers and drive efficiencies through more efficient processing and distribution to reduce costs and provide a more competitive price on milk to all Canadians.”
Download the whole report here.