Northern Food Prices Report 2003

Exploring strategies to reduce the high cost of food in northern Manitoba

[ Read the entire report (.pdf / 119 pages / 1.8 MB) ]

Executive Summary

By mandate of the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet, the Northern Food Prices Project was established and completed from July to December 2002. A group of provincial, federal and non-government northern agencies made up the inter-agency Steering Committee charged with the responsibilities for this project. They did so through a process of information gathering and stakeholder discussions.

This report completes the mandate of the Northern Food Prices Project and satisfies its purpose: to submit a report to Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet identifying strategic options to address the concern about high food prices in northern Manitoba. This concern is related to the nutritional health and food security of northern citizens. The purpose was further defined to focus on one specific aspect of the issue: strategic options that could reduce the retail price of nutritious foods to northern citizens. The focus was on nutritious foods such as milk and milk products, including infant formula and lactose-reduced products, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, whole grains and staples.

The report describes the multi-faceted and complex issues related to the high cost of food in northern Manitoba. The report also describes the process of discovery that the Northern Food Prices Project went through in the development of possible strategic options. Seven priority strategic options are recommended by the Committee, which if implemented, have the potential to have the greatest impact on northern nutritious food prices. Other strategic options that have merit and stakeholder support are described in the report as well.

The prioritized strategic options (listed below) recommended by the Northern Food Prices Project relate to the nutritional health and food security of northerners and build on the Northern Development Strategy of feasible community and economic development.

  1. Northern Food Self-Sufficiency Initiative – a comprehensive and long-term strategy to build local food provision activity and capacity in the north. As nutritious foods are produced, harvested, processed and marketed locally, the costs may be reduced by replacing the imported product with a local food supply.

  2. Milk Price Review in Northern Communities – applies the current Milk Price Review program to all of Manitoba. This option also recommends a broadening of the Milk Price Review Commission’s mandate to include two- and four-litre fluid milk, UHT milk, canned milk and lactose-reduced milk products.

  3. Northern Food Business Development – focussing on existing business and community development programs, funds and services, this option encourages the development, financing and support of northern food businesses and activity.

  4. Northern Community Foods Program – builds on the cultural tradition of sharing abundance with others. This option facilitates the sharing of successful community models of community foods programs. These include organized hunting, fishing or gathering, community food distribution, food preservation, and cultural education about using traditional foods.

  5. Northern Greenhouse Pilot Project – will identify the types of technology and best practices related to greenhouse-type production to grow fruits and vegetables in northern Manitoba communities.

  6. Northern Gardens Initiatives – facilitates and supports northern gardening activity. The form of gardening (individual, community, commercial, market, school or youth-based) will be determined by community identified need.

  7. Northern Food Price Survey Program – provides credible, accurate northern food pricing information. A collaboration of northern stakeholders will design and use the food pricing, data base and reports to satisfy their information and research needs.

The Northern Food Prices Project Steering Committee is confident that through collaborative efforts, the high cost of nutritious foods can be lowered over time. This report provides Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet with an information base from which the solutions to the high cost of nutritious foods can be pursued. It is hoped that other northern stakeholders also see their role and opportunities to work towards a common goal of an affordable and accessible nutritious food supply for northern Manitoba citizens.