Through collaborative efforts between the Nunatsiavut Government, the Social Justice Co-operative, and CLEAR Lab at Memorial University, the NL Food Pricing Project was developed in response to growing concerns about the cost of living in Newfoundland and Labrador. According to Proof Canada (2017), one in six households in the province experience food insecurity. This means Newfoundlanders and Labradorians worry about running out of food, limit their food selection due to lack of funds, compromise the quality and/or quantity of their food, or miss meals or reduce their food intake because of the cost or accessibility of food. 

For over a year between 2020 and 2021, volunteers collected data on the pricing of a set number of food items in their communities. We then co-analyzed results to answer questions pertaining to food security issues that are important in Newfoundland and Labrador. This was a community-based, collaborative effort—the project was designed to incorporate community knowledge and concerns at every step, from citizen scientist data collection to public meetings to collaboratively interpret the data. We sincerely thank everyone who participated!

What we found
According to the grocery store data collected by volunteers across Newfoundland and Labrador:

  • Regionally, Nunatsiavut has the highest average prices of food, particularly in Nain.
  • Food pricing across the province is characterized by high variability over time (large differences between the highest and lowest pricing). Nain has the greatest variability of food pricing, followed by Port Hope Simpson, Rigolet, and Port aux Basques. These are the same places with some of the highest food costs.
  • The foods with the highest variability in pricing on our list are black tea, canned tuna, and cheddar cheese. The most stable prices are for fresh milk, fresh corn, Coca Cola (or Pepsi), and eggs.
  • The food retailer (grocery store chain) has less impact on food pricing than location, meaning that different retailers in the same place are more aligned in pricing than the same retailer in different places.
  • Local prices are impacted by national and geopolitical trends such as the federal rise in inflation.

We invite you to learn more about the variability in food pricing in Newfoundland and Labrador by viewing the full report.

The dataset is free and available for others to use here. If you use the data in professional reports or communications, please cite the dataset.
Dataset DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7712681

Media Contact: Data collector Corinne Neil ( & Project coordinator Max Liboiron (
General and research Inquiries:, 

This project is a partnership between:

This project is funded by the Public Engagement Fund, Office of Public Engagement at Memorial University, the Memorial Undergraduate Career Employment Program, the Smallwood Foundation, and a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant.

Average food prices by location in Newfoundland and Labrador. Average food prices by unit (adjusted for differences in size) for all food items across the entire study period. Note that not all location have the same amount of data, so any location with fewer than three dates of data collection have been removed.


Average unit price and item price for key food items in Newfoundland and Labrador. Unit price is adjusted to accommodate different sizes of the same item (e.g. a 1kg bag of flour and a 500g bag of lour). Average item price is the cost to put the available food item in your basket. Nunatsiavut is removed because its much higher food prices skew the data. The report includes several analyses that focus solely on Nunatsaivut for this reason.


The average unit price of food items in Newfoundland and Labrador during the entire study period (October 2019–December 2021). This shows how food prices in the province overall respond to world events, such as inflation and COVID lockdowns. See the report Appendix for a list of meaningful dates that can impact food pricing.


The variance of food pricing by location in Newfoundland and Labrador. Variance measures the difference between the highest and lowest costs of food in a location. It is a way to understand uncertainty in food shopping, where the relationship between a paycheck and a monthly food bill is not predictable because the pricing of the same food items changes significantly. The areas with the highest average food prices in the province are often those with the highest variability as well.


Average food pricing by local and retailer. The top image shows the average pricing differences for all foods between grocery stores in the same location. It shows that there is a similarity between average pricing within a location, across stores. The bottom image re-clusters the same data to show stores together, regardless of location. This visualizes greater differences between the same chain in different locations. Note that some chains on the island of Newfoundland are less common or entirely absent in Labrador. Locations with too few data points (fewer than three dates of data collection) were not included.


Comparison of item prices for fresh (yellow), frozen (blue), and canned (grey) corn. The top bar graph shows average item prices by location over the entire data collection period, while the bottom line graph shows the average item price for all locations over time. Though frozen corn is less expensive than fresh corn on average in some locations, such as Bay Roberts, Carbonear, and Gander (top graph), more often it is more expensive (indicated on the time series graph at the bottom). The seasonality of fresh corn (summer and fall) does not necessarily impact the prices of canned or frozen corn. Nor does the lack of available fresh corn in February and March 2021 appear to impact the price of fresh or frozen corn. Rather, location is the greater indicator of price trends. This aligns with other data that finds location to be the greatest determinant of food pricing in Newfoundland and Labrador.