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Ontarians expect to cut back on meat, produce in coming months: Study

Ontario consumers plan to buy less fresh fruits and vegetables as inflation remains high, according to a new study from OPMA

Ontario consumers expect to cut back on fresh meat and produce over the next three months, the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) reports in its new study.

The study, conducted by Numerator, found 20% of shoppers anticipate reducing the amount of meat and produce they buy as food inflation remains high. 

About half of respondents say they’ll also cut back on restaurants, bars and food delivery. 

Price is a key driver in the decision to purchase produce (34%), followed by quality and freshness (26%) and health benefits (22%).

Almost 60% of consumers are concerned about the price increases specifically for fresh fruits and vegetables. This has resulted in 45% buying more produce when on sale and 42% shopping at more stores to get the best price. 

Out of the stores Ontarians turn to for their fresh fruit and vegetable needs, conventional and discount continue to dominate trip choices. Club has also grown in importance, benefiting from growth in both units and trips, specifically when shopping for vegetables, OPMA found. 

Of those surveyed, 47% of those surveyed indicated that they purchase local “frequently” or “often” and 42% said “occasionally.”

While 40% of Ontarians stated they purchase organic produce at least occasionally, 70% say they will likely cut back on organics due to inflation. 

When asked about what would make consumers more likely to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they purchase, strong loyalty programs and promotional offers at the retail level were noted as the top answers.

“It is great to see the support for local remain strong among Ontario shoppers, despite inflationary pressures,” said Stephen Reid, OPMA president, in a statement. “We want to continue supporting consumers by providing them with the information they need to make the most of the local season.”

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