Proposed BC chicken price increase untenable - industry group

Price increase untenable for restaurants, consumers
calendar icon 26 January 2024
clock icon 3 minute read

In a recent press release, Restaurants Canada strongly urged the British Columbia government to intervene and protect restaurants and consumers from the BC Chicken Marketing Board’s proposed increase cost of chicken. If approved, this increase will raise chicken prices by an average of 10% for consumers. The cost of chicken in British Columbia is already, on average, the highest in Canada.

Competitively priced BC chicken is integral to the foodservice industry’s success. As the most consumed meat protein in the province, as well as being a healthy and versatile menu item, a dramatic increase in its cost will place undue burden on restaurants, both large and small. This proposed increase has the potential to harm not only the vibrant dining experience communities across the province cherish but consumers as well.

At a time when more than half (53%) of restaurants are operating at a loss or barely breaking even (compared to just 12% pre-pandemic), any increase in the cost of ingredients will put thousands of already struggling local businesses in jeopardy.

Affordability is a major concern for British Columbians. A significant chicken price increase will only add to the affordability crisis for consumers who have seen their costs rise and disposable income decrease since the pandemic. December’s Canada Food Price Report concluded that food prices in Canada increased by 5-7% in 2023, and predict food prices would increase a further 2.5-4.5% in 2024.

Restaurants Canada has made several attempts to present our concerns prior to a price increase decision being made. This included a letter writing campaign to the BC Farm Industry Review Board (BCFIRB), supported by the Canadian Federation of Grocers and Canadian Poultry & Egg Processors. We have also made our concerns known to the Minister of Agriculture and Premier’s office. Our concerns are not only being dismissed, but they are also not even being heard or considered. Restaurants, hotels, and institutions account for 40% of all chicken consumed by Canadians. Chicken is also one of the most popular items, included on 80% of restaurant menus in Canada, according to Technomic Menu Canada.

“The entire process is flawed. Not allowing consumers such as the foodservice industry and the public to have a say when food prices are at all-time high is unconscionable,” said Mark von Schellwitz, vice president, Western Canada, Restaurants Canada. “We have been shut out; therefore, we are calling on the BC government to protect businesses and the public from the proposed dramatic increase in chicken prices. Government saying it is an independent board with no consumer voice is not good enough for the citizens of our province.”

If this proposed increase goes ahead, restaurants and the public will be hit with another significant cost increase they cannot afford.

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