This Week in Food

Ice Cream at The Piggy Market

A few coworkers recommended I check out Pascale Berthiaume's (who provides the ice cream for the Wellington Gastropub) ice cream, now being sold in Westboro at The Piggy Market. They're located in the rear half of the old, now defunct, Westboro Market.

The Piggy Market

I gave them a first visit this week to check them out, and so far I've a very positive impression of the place. I stopped in on my way home from work on Thursday, around 20:45. They had been closed for an hour and forty-five minutes, but they still let me in to buy ice cream as long as I paid cash (the charge machines and register were closed for the day); they get 6 out of 5 stars for service. Again, on a coworker's recommendation, I picked the Peanut Butter Salted Caramel flavour.

Terrific Ice Cream

Outstanding! And check out the ingredients: yolks, cream, sugar, peanut butter, caramel, salt, vanilla. That's it! Goes for 10$ a tub.

Ron Eade on Butter Prices

Omnivore's Ottawa weekly supermarket specials roundup includes these few words from Mr. Eade:

Anyway, my gold star of the week goes to three chain stores, Price Chopper, Food Basics and Superstore Loblaw for selling various brands of butter, salted or unsalted and sometimes both, at $2.97 to $2.99 a pound. Really, I can't understand how stores get away with charging $4 or more for a pound of churned animal fat. (I'll bet it has something to do with the government-sanctioned cartel marketing board that controls milk prices. Reach for the sky, buddy, this is a stick-up.)

Now a complaint like this about the price isn't too punchy in a vacuum - we need to put it in context to see if there's really anything to gripe about when it comes to butter prices! How does this compare to the rest of your grocery basket?

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provides a bit of historical data for retail prices of various dairy products.

They also provide an overview of the butter sector, but this report is quite misleading; it significantly understates (by 50%!) the price of butter as they got the units wrong, claiming an average price of 3.84$/Kg in 2005. In Table 2, they present the AC Neilsen retail price survey data in $/Kg, adjusted to what I assume are 2006 dollars, but the Neilsen price survey measures the price per pound of butter (454g). I wonder how many people noticed the error.

It's best to ignore the above report then, and go back to the original data, in nominal dollars per pound of butter. As we can see from the series representing the price of a pound of butter, retail has crept up towards the 4$ mark for the last few years, but the nominal price, from 2006-2008, has hardly increased.

I've plotted this data against milk prices and the Core Consumer Price Index (which includes dairy products, btw), using 2004 as a baseline:

So it seems that although the price of butter has shot up a bit faster than core CPI around 2004-2005, it's been relatively flat even in nominal dollars over the last three years, meaning it's actually gotten cheaper in real terms.

Hardly cause for panic! Happy cooking.

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