Labrador’s Growing Grocery Problem

For residents in Labrador, outrageous grocery prices are the norm.

Tyler Mugford

Labradorians are facing a significant issue impacting their daily lives – the high cost of groceries.

Customer buying groceries in Cartwright, Labrador. Photo by Sandra Mugford
Leah Noseworthy buys groceries in Cartwright, Labrador. Even canned food is more expensive than the same products on the island portion of the province.  Photo contributed by Sandra Mugford.

“Only 10 per cent of fresh vegetables (that) are available through major wholesalers is produced in the province, meaning that 90 per cent of fresh vegetables are imported,” a 2010  report by the Department of Natural Resources, Forestry and Agrifoods Agency suggests.

In Rigolet, Labrador, grocery prices include $6.99 for a 500-gram tub of Kraft peanut butter, $5.49 for a 475 millilitre bottle of Miracle Whip and $4.29 for one litre of milk, just to name a few.

Grocery Prices in Rigolet, Labrador. Photo by Lucas Keefe
A bottle of peanut butter costs almost $7 in Rigolet. Photo by Lucas Keefe

“It wasn’t very strange to see a frozen chicken for $17 – $18 per chicken, and it wasn’t strange to see a bag of potatoes for $12 for five pounds, bread was $5.99, and milk was $6.15,” said Tom Mugford, a former resident from Rigolet, Labrador, who recently moved to St. John’s.

Residents in Rigolet cannot buy freshly cut meat. Everything that is shipped to the community is frozen.

“There was no fresh food as you can imagine in a small rural community,” Mugford said. “Everything came in frozen, so there was no buying fresh meat.”

A grocery shopper’s dollar does not go as far once someone moves from the island to Labrador.

Grocery Prices in Cartwright, Labrador. Photo by Leah Noseworthy.
Cartwright residents pay a whopping $36.29 for a bottle of Tide Pods. Photo by Leah Noseworthy.

“When I was in St. John’s, (when) I spent about $200 I got a carton and half of groceries, but here (Makkovik) if I spent $200 I would get four or five bags of groceries depending on how much meat I get,” said April Groves-Rideout, who is currently living in Makkovik.

 According to a media release by Nunatsiavut government about food security, a survey conducted in May 2017 suggests a total of 61 per cent of households in Labrador were found to be food insecure. The community with the highest number of people experiencing food insecurity was Hopedale at 83 per cent of its residents.
Rideout points to one factor that can reduce food prices.
“Opening more competition within the community helps,” said Rideout. “Like, a new store opened here (in Makkovik) last year, and the prices dropped.”

In Cartwright, Labrador grocery prices include $8.29 for Reese Puffs cereal, $9.49 for Mini-Wheats cereal, $10 for Kraft Pizza kits, $8 for an 80-pack of Bounce sheets, $36.29 for 90 Tide Pods and $26.99 for a 930-gram tub of Tim Hortons coffee.

Residents of Labrador can only hope that the grocery prices will be lower in the future.


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