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Milk prices vary across Canadian provinces

The average price of milk increased 3.6 per cent since March 2020 in 18 of 20 markets
dairy section grocery store stock photo
The dairy section at a grocery store

The cheapest milk prices in Canada are in the northern Ontario city of Sudbury.

Milk prices vary from market to market, according to a study by Field Agent Canada.

The average price of milk increased 3.6 per cent since March 2020 in 18 of 20 markets reviewed by the Canadian Fluid Milk Report.

Price changes ranged from 10.6 per cent increase in Halifax to .6 per cent in Laval, Quebec. Prices dropped in Victoria, B.C., by 6.1 per cent and by 4.6 per cent in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

The cheapest milk found in Sudbury at $4.68 for a four-litre jug for two per cent compares with $7.13 in Moncton, New Brunswick.

While the lower Sudbury milk price comes from retail competition and use of milk as a loss leader to attract customers, Field Agent General Manager Gerry Doucette says differences in regional prices are generally caused by the supply management system which controls milk production through provincial quotas.

“In Quebec there are higher prices in general versus Ontario — that’s more of a supply management piece," he told Canadian Grocer. “In Atlantic Canada it’s really about inefficiencies. Because milk doesn’t flow freely across borders in Canada you don’t have efficiencies of shipping milk from Ontario to the Maritimes and doing it at a much lower price.”

The least expensive milk in retail stores was found in Costco in Ontario, Manitoba and B.C. at $4.65 for a four-litre jug ($1.07 a litre). And 7-Eleven and Circle K convenience stores sold a two-litre jug of milk for $4.99 ($2.50 a litre).

Doucette said the price reflects the cost of milk landed at the store.

The Field Agent study used data collected from a network of mobile phone users and from 185 stores across Canada between May 7 to June 20 in 20 markets.

Regina milk prices averaged $1.36 a litre, or $5.39 for four litres of two per cent milk.

Ron Walter can be reached at ronjoy@sasktel.net