It’s hard for Canadians to avoid comparing our food costs to American food costs shared online. I’ve always known there was a price difference, but I didn’t know how much of one. So when the opportunity arose to compare food prices in Phoenix, Arizona to Winnipeg, Manitoba I took it.
Based on the below chart of food purchases you can see how there is a significant difference between Canadian and US prices. This difference is even more profound when one doesn’t take into account the exchange rate. It is clear that food costs in the US won’t necessarily reflect the costs for the same items in Canada.
Some details about these prices:
- Most purchases were made at a random Walmart in Phoenix, Arizona and an equally random Walmart in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A few purchases were made elsewhere. No coupons were used, but a couple items were listed as sale prices.
- I understand that by shopping around and cooking from scratch less money could be spent in either country, but that was not the purpose of this comparison.
- All purchases were made between March 15 and March 22, 2014.
- Some of the US prices have been adjusted to match the equivalent amount of Canadian product due to size discrepancies.
- Exchange rate used was that on March 24, 2014 – 1.12 CAN$ to 1.00 US$.
1 Canadian bread price is an average of several brands as there wasn’t a direct equivalent.
2 This was hard to make a direct comparison as my local Walmart didn’t have corn tortillas. I’m sure they can be found in ethnic stores for a lot cheaper, but these stores aren’t available to all Canadians. I compared a similar quantity of packaged wheat tortillas.
3 It’s very surprising that the exact same bag of oranges was $5 in Phoenix and $5 in Winnipeg as we saw many orange trees in the Phoenix area and the Winnipeg area is still snow covered.
4 I know that canned beans can be found cheaper in different stores, especially ethnic ones, or can be cooked from dry. But for my Walmart to Walmart comparison I chose the most similar and easily available product. Note the cost is triple in Canada.
I found it interesting that the items with the least difference in price were generally produce and dairy. It may be cheaper to eat more fresh produce in Canada versus the US. But the flip side is that the absolute lowest cost foods – beans and corn (tortillas in this case) are significantly cheaper in the US, at least at this specific location. If I’d wanted to eat beans and tortillas all week I could have done so for under $10.
I think I’ll stick to my varied and produce-heavy diet but it is interesting to consider that a monthly food bill of $200 in the US could be in the range of $240 in Canada.
Of course this all varies greatly by area and store. If you have a recent grocery bill, what did you pay for any of these items and where are you located? It would be interesting to compare.