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Report: B.C. facing massive price spikes for fruits and vegetables

California drought a wake up call for B.C. to increase local food production

October 10, 2014, Vancouver, B.C. – A report released to today warns prices for a variety of fruits and vegetables in B.C. could increase up to 34 per cent this year due to the drought in California.

According to the report which was commissioned by Vancity, drought has persisted in California over the past three years, with the majority of the state in “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. With the last 30 months being the driest on record, the state’s dependence on moving water is making it and British Columbians vulnerable to price spikes for fruits and vegetables.

The report, entitled Wake up Call: California Drought & BC’s Food Security, indicates:

  • In 2010, 67% of BC vegetable imports came from the U.S., over half of which was produced in California, including 95% of all broccoli and 74% of all lettuce.
  • Between 1996 and 2011 in B.C., local crop production has decreased by 52% in the case of broccoli and 34% in the case of lettuce.
  • Since 1991, local crop production in B.C. has dramatically decreased, including vegetable crops, which have fallen by 20.4 per cent.
  • Between July 2013 and 2014, produce prices in B.C. have increased between 5.7% and 9.6%.
  • If current trends continue, prices for many fruit and vegetables are predicted to increase by 25%-50% by 2019, adding an extra $30-$60 to the average B.C. household’s monthly grocery bill.
  • Paying $7 for a pound of broccoli could be a reality in five years.
  • When comparing current production to recommendations for dietary consumption outlined in Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating, B.C.’s food self reliance drops to 34%.

The report states that the on-going drought underscores the need for B.C. to establish a more sustainable local food system and become more self-reliant on local food. Many fruits and vegetables can be produced in B.C., yet we’ve become dependent on importing them from California and other locations.

For B.C. to have a resilient and secure food system in the midst of global challenges such as climate change and economic instability, as consumers, we must do more to support a sustainable local food system. The report provides some easy consumers tips for incorporating more locally-grown, seasonal food.

Vancity supports the creation of a sustainable local food system and as a result has invested more than $32 million in local and organic food initiatives.


William Azaroff, Director, Business & Community Development, Vancity
“We recognize the importance of supporting a sustainable local food system, which is why we commissioned this report. Investing in local and organic food initiatives is one of the areas Vancity supports in order to contribute to a healthier environment, and a more resilient local economy.”

Brent Mansfield, Co-Chair, BC Food Systems Network and report author
“More energy needs to be given to initiatives, both public and private, that work to increase local production, support new farmers accessing land, and transition under-utilized parcels of zoned agriculture lands into active production.”

Additional available information:

About Vancity

Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 501,000 member-owners and their communities through 57 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. As Canada’s largest community credit union, Vancity uses its $17.5 billion in assets to help improve the financial well-being of its members while at the same time helping to develop healthy communities that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

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For more information:

Lorraine Wilson | Vancity
T: 778-837-0394