Jar of Nutella priced $48(l), Couple smiling(c), Recipe and groceries(r)


’48$ for Nutella’: Couple shows $215 grocery haul in the Arctic

'Groceries here aren’t even close to as expensive as the other Northern communities.'


V Roth


Posted on Oct 11, 2023   Updated on Oct 11, 2023, 5:02 pm CDT

A couple living in a remote community in northern Canada has gone viral for showing the extreme cost of groceries in the Arctic. 

In a TikTok posted Monday, user Willow Allen (@willow.allen) shows a regular trip to the grocery store with her husband Cale.

The first item shown is a bag of tangerines for a whopping $16.99 CAD, or $12.50 USD. A container of blueberries is listed at $7.35 USD; a frozen pizza is $12.50 USD. 

@willow.allen #groceryprices #inflation #inuit #arctic ♬ original sound – Willow Allen

Despite the shocking prices, Allen says that this is actually low for the area.

“Groceries here aren’t even close to as expensive as the other Northern communities,” she says in her video while holding up a package of ground beef priced at $21.89 per kilogram, or about $7.35 USD per pound. “Because our community is a lot less isolated than others.” 

She then shows a shelf with several 35oz containers of Nutella, priced at $35 USD. A jar of peanut butter? $12.50. 

Allen explains that there is a highway passing through Inuvik, granting it easier access than more remote communities in Canada’s Northern Territories. As she says this, she shows a package of four chicken breasts priced at $47, or $34.50 USD. 

The total cost of Allen’s grocery trip came to $158 USD, which she says “isn’t even as close to as bad as other communities.” 

Food insecurity in First Nations territory

In a 2014 survey, 67% of the population of Inuvik identified as Indigenous or First Nations. The issue of high food prices affecting First Nations communities is well documented: A collaborative study by the Assembly of First Nations, University of Ottowa, and Université de Montreal found that 48% of First Nations families have experienced food insecurity. 

The study also reports that remote communities experience higher rates of food insecurity. 

Other TikTok users have also shared the high food prices in Canada’s First Nations communities. 

In a video from 2022, user @katlea40 shows a trip to the grocery store on a First Nations reserve in northern Alberta. The items she shows in her video are priced similarly to those in Allen’s video, in particular, a bag of grapefruits for $12.50 USD. 

Ky Kilabuk (@arcticmakeup) is known on TikTok for her videos exposing the extreme grocery prices of Nunavut, Canada’s largest and northernmost territory. 

In one video, she reveals a 12-pack of soda for $53 USD and a container of Tide Pods laundry detergent for $61 USD. 

One explanation for the high price of groceries is the remote location of communities such as Inuvik or Nunavut. Harsh winter conditions make transport difficult, but many communities lack highway access or rail lines. This means that the only option is for grocery items to be shipped in via air or marine freight when conditions allow. 

Extreme grocery prices in Indigenous communities

A 2017 study found that a basket of groceries cost, on average, $7.51 more on Indigenous reservations than in other areas. A 2021 study found that one in four Indigenous people has experienced food insecurity. This is worsened by the fact that many reservations are classified as food deserts. 

Because of this, many believe that the higher prices are an example of price gouging

In an interview with Teen Vogue, A-dae Briones, director of programs for Native agriculture and food systems at the First Nations Development Institute, says that this issue is “the cumulation of all kinds of historical policies.” 

This is corroborated by an executive summary by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, tracing the current state of food insecurity affecting Indigenous communities back to the historical subjugation and exploitation of Indigenous people. 

Briones explains, “If you have people buying beef at $20 a pound at their own reservation grocery store, that is a result of long-standing policies that now result in exploitation of the community for something as basic as eating.”

One of the most common responses to the issue of extreme prices on reservations, posed by many commenters on Allen’s video, is how it’s possible for people to survive in places where the cost of groceries is so high. 

Some shared that they receive government tax credits that help offset the cost of groceries. Others said that they were paid higher salaries for jobs in remote areas. Move For Hunger reports that 24% of Native American households rely on SNAP or food stamps. 

For many, the issue of food insecurity affecting Indigenous communities is an example of the need for food sovereignty, defined by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as “the ability of communities to determine the quantity and quality of the food that they consume by controlling how their food is produced and distributed.” 

Food sovereignty offers a solution

Food sovereignty programs can include the reintroduction of Indigenous crops and passing down knowledge of cultivation techniques, as well as subsistence hunting and fishing. 

In her interview for Teen Vogue, Briones says, “I don’t think it’s a matter of giving us the tools to be self-sufficient, because sovereignty implies that we already have those tools.” 

“It’s just removing the barriers that keep us from using those tools,” Briones adds. 

Some Indigenous TikTokers are using their platforms to call for “food sovereignty” and to spread awareness of cultural food practices. One user, Shina Nova (@shinanova) has gone viral for showing off an Inuk meal of raw caribou and beluga whale. 

Allen, herself, is known for her videos sharing her Inuk culture with her audience, including traditional parenting techniques, her handmade family heirloom boots, and ice fishing. She has used her platform to destigmatize subsistence beluga whale hunting, explaining that the practice allows Inuit communities to survive the harsh climate. 

In a video from Thursday, Allen draws attention to the necessity for subsistence hunting in the face of skyrocketing grocery prices. 

@willow.allen Its crazy because in my community inuvik we are less isolated then other Inuit communities, so their groceries are sooo much more expensive! #groceryprices #inflation #inuit #arctic ♬ original sound – Willow Allen

She explains that growing up, her family spent $6,000 a month on groceries and that the cost of food has only increased since then. 

“Given how expensive groceries are in the North, it’s crazy to me how people tell us not to hunt,” she says in her video. “We’re doing what we can to survive and be self-sustaining.” 

The Daily Dot reached out to Allen via TikTok comment. 

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*First Published: Oct 11, 2023, 4:18 pm CDT