National nutritious food basket

We’ve updated the national nutritious food basket to be consistent with Canada’s new food guide. Learn more about this update.

About the national nutritious food basket

The national nutritious food basket is a survey tool used by various levels of government and other stakeholders to monitor the cost and affordability of healthy eating. The food basket includes approximately 60 nutritious foods and their quantities for individuals in various age and sex groups. Statistics Canada collects food prices for the Market Basket Measure. Provincial and regional stakeholders collect food prices for their costing activities.

Who uses the food basket

  • Statistics Canada uses the food basket to calculate the cost of the food component of the Market Basket Measure, which is used to measure Canada’s Official Poverty Line
  • Provincial stakeholders use the food basket to monitor the cost of healthy eating within their regions to inform health and social policies
  • Other users, such as researchers and non-governmental organizations, use the food cost data from the food basket to inform health and social policy and educate others about the relationship between poverty and food insecurity

A short history of the food basket

Nutritious food baskets have a long history of use in Canada at the municipal, regional and national levels. Over the years, there have been many different versions of food baskets. The foods have changed over time to reflect changes in dietary guidance and food habits.

The first national nutritious food basket was developed by the Food Prices Review Board in 1974 in response to public concerns over increasing food prices. In 1997, Health Canada assumed responsibility and subsequently developed the 1998 and 2008 versions of the food basket.

Updating the food basket

Health Canada has updated the 2008 version of the food basket to be consistent with the 2019 Canada’s food guide. It was built using the Dietary Reference Intakes, the nutrient data from the Canadian Nutrient File, and national food consumption data from the 2015 Canadian Community Health Survey—Nutrition.

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