01/22/2016 08:47 EST | Updated 01/22/2017 05:12 EST

Food Prices Push Canadian Inflation To 1.6% In December

OTTAWA -- Canada's annual inflation rate accelerated last month to 1.6 per cent -- an increase mainly fuelled by climbing prices for fresh fruits and vegetables.

The December inflation reading in the latest consumer price index from Statistics Canada followed a 1.4 per cent year-over-year increase in November.

The agency says on top of higher produce prices compared to a year earlier, Canadians were also paying considerably more for home and mortgage insurance, automobiles and electricity.

Chart: StatsCan

The report says lower prices for gasoline, natural gas and fuel oil applied downward pressure on inflation.

The core inflation rate, which excludes some volatile items such as gasoline, was up 1.9 per cent last month, slipping below the two per cent mark for the first time since July 2014.

The agency released its year-end review for 2015, which showed the country's annual average increase in inflation was 1.1 per cent.

Statistics Canada also says retail sales in November were up 1.7 per cent compared to the previous month as Black Friday promotions and a boost in sales at new car dealerships helped push the total figure up to $44.3 billion.

Chart: StatsCan