If you have recently been to a grocery store in the Ottawa area, you might have noticed two things: Prices are going up and supply is going down, leaving some shelves bare.

Gordon Dean has spent the last 25 years in the grocery business. He’s the owner of Mike Dean Local Grocer with four stores in the Ottawa Valley.

He says he’s never seen anything like this.  

"It’s not horrible. But it’s not great," says Dean. "Nobody’s going to go hungry. Nobody’s going to run out of food in communities. But the variety is definitely limited. The product coming in the door is definitely delayed."

Less choice and empty spaces on the shelves thanks to supply chain issues, also causing food prices to rise significantly.

"It’s not a 10 or 20 cent increase," says Dean. "There’s products that are going up a dollar, a $1.50, $2 a unit. The supply chain is just being challenged, and it’s been challenged now for 24 months. But the challenges are significantly compounding."

A shortage of truckers and now mandatory vaccines to cross the border into Canada are adding to the spike in food costs. 

"A lot of truckers have actually decided to retire, exit the industry," says Sylvain Charlebois, Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. "So trucking things around, which is really an essential component of our supply chain in North America, has been severely handicapped over the last little while."

However, the supply chain isn’t the only reason some shelves are bare. Grocery stores are badly short-staffed because of COVID-19.  

Vice-President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, Gary Sands, wants to see more access to rapid tests kits to keep more people at work.

"About 25 to 30 per cent of staff shortages," says Sands. "Those labour shortages are significant. We’re seeing serious disruptions in supply. We’re seeing significant increases in pricing. And consumers need to understand that will be coming to a store near them."

Experts are saying there’s no reason to panic, yes prices might go up, but food will never run out.

“There is plenty of food supply in our country of Canada, coast to coast,” says Dean. “It’s simply your favourite variety or your favourite brand might not be there.”