HALIFAX -- Many people are looking to change their eating habits in 2020, and one big reason is because of the rising cost of food. According to a year-end report by Dalhousie University, people are definitely feeling the pinch.

“We actually were shocked that 87 percent of Canadians, they feel the pressure, they feel they are falling behind,” says Dalhousie University professor Sylvain Charlebois.

The survey from Dalhousie University and Angus-Reid polling also found that 53 percent of Canadians are planning to change how they shop for food in 2020.

Another report released earlier in 2019 from Dalhousie and Guelph universities found the cost of food in Canada could go up by 4 percent in 2020. The report cited trade wars, plastic packaging, and climate change amongst the reasons for food price increases.

When it came to the Dalhousie and Angus-Reid survey, the poll found Canadians are worried about the rising cost of food in every category – led by vegetables at 69 percent, fruit at 60 percent and meat at 54 percent.

“My biggest concern is being able to eat fresh produce off-season when it's so overly priced,” says one Haligonian resident. “I would like to see standardized pricing all year round. I know that's impossible, but off-season I buy frozen – when it's on-season, and the price is less, I'll buy fresh.”

The report found 50 percent of Atlantic Canadians are planning to limit how much they eat out in a bid to manage their food budget. However, there are other strategies for cutting food costs, such as buying frozen food more often.

“It’s not the same taste,” says Charlebois. “But nutritionally, it's the same value – and you'll save money.”

And it’s a strategy many are employing.

“We buy a bit in bulk, and we do buy frozen, but we may have to start going to discount grocery stores and try to find ways to save some cash,” says another Halifax resident.

Meanwhile, some people are holding on to their fresh produce as long as possible.

“We try to always stay fresh if we can,” says a Halifax resident. “A lot of times, I find stores are importing from PEI greenhouses and Ontario, so they are a little bit more bit more – but they are fresher and last longer.”

Meanwhile, the report also found that clipping coupons and checking store flyers will become a more common habit in the Atlantic region – helping to make food more affordable in the years ahead.

“You need to have knowledge,” says Charlebois. “The one thing you can do is read and consult flyers more often – whether on your phone, digitally, or flyers you get at home. If you consult and read your flyers on a regular basis, you'll actually educate yourself on how much things cost in general.”