05/16/2013 07:44 EDT | Updated 07/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Rising cost of food causing Canadians to shop more carefully, survey finds

TORONTO - A recent survey of Canadian adult consumers found a large majority of them believe the price of the food they buy has gone up in the past year and more than half said they are doing more comparison shopping than before.

The Ipsos Reid study done for the Royal Bank suggests the average monthly food bill for the 3,024 people it surveyed last month was $411 per household.

The online survey asked: "On average, how much would you say you spend on groceries/food (not including eating out or going to restaurants) per month?"

Ontario had the lowest provincial average at $379 per month and Quebec had the highest at $448 per month.

In British Columbia, the average was $415; Alberta, $440; Saskatchewan-Manitoba, $401 and Atlantic Canada, $420.

The online survey also found about one-third of the respondents said food has a significant impact on their daily budget.

About 15 per cent of the respondents said they were looking at other parts of their life, such as using their vehicles less, in order to deal with rising food prices.

"In light of concerns over escalating food prices, more Canadians are looking for cost-saving strategies they can use on their next trip to the grocery store," said Jason Round, head of the bank's financial planning unit.

According to the survey, 84 per cent of respondents across the country said their food prices have increased over the past year.

Ontario — where competition between grocery retailers has been intense for several years — was the only province below the national average, with 80 per cent of respondents saying they felt food prices had gone up.

The other regional averages were: British Columbia 86 per cent; Alberta, 88 per cent, Saskatchewan/Manitoba 89 per cent, Quebec 86 per cent and Atlantic Canada 88 per cent.

The survey, conducted April 2 to 15, found 57 per cent of respondents across the country said they comparison shop more than before and 41 per cent said they were more budget conscious or less likely to make impulsive purchases.

The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.