Meaningless but interesting

Here is one of those little stats that doesn’t mean much but is mildly interesting. This is the per capita spend on eating out among the 10 provinces in Canada (for May 2009). 

Alberta  $ 162.93
British Columbia     150.33
Ontario     120.01
Saskatchewan     114.15
Nova Scotia     109.14
Quebec     107.48
Manitoba     102.47
Newfoundland and Labrador       97.03
New Brunswick       96.96
Prince Edward Island       93.40


Update:  A few hours later

It’s a slow day, what can I tell you.  The previous commentator suggested we have a penchant for fast food and eating crap so I took a quick look at the NAICS data to see.  The following table shows the results.  Remember with NAICS there is always some spillage between the categories because a company can fit into more than one.  In general, Full Service Restaurants are those with waiters/waitresses, limited service are those where you pay before you eat (fast food) and drinking places are pubs/bars.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t get food in 722410 but the establishments primarily exists to serve booze.

Food and Beverage Establishments (per 10,000 population)
NAICS Database June 2008


What do we learn here?  Not much.  Except NB does have the second lowest percentage of ‘full service’ restaurants among the 10 provinces – well below BC, Quebec, Alberta, etc.  Even PEI has 34% more full service restaurants.  NB has more fast food joints than four provinces but is below five provinces.  NB does have the distinction of having more watering holes – only the Newfoundlanders and the booze hounds in Quebec have more.  New Brunswick has double the drinking places of Nova Scotia and 2.5 times as many as PEI (per 10,000 population).

Unfortunately, there is little data that I can find that indicates ‘quality’ of the food.

Now back to my regularly scheduled programming.

9 thoughts on “Meaningless but interesting

  1. Actually, this IS meaningful. This statistic correlates with the number of pub restaurants (deep fried) that constitute the overwhelming percentage of food establishments in New Brunswick. Apparently, we are not cultures (English or French) that place a high premium on eating out. Thrift and portion sizes are key factors in determining eat out choices. Hotels often set the standard, despite the fact that much hotel food is frozen and/or steamed. Gordon Ramsay would have a field day here.

    Halifax has done very well to diversify its food options, but only recently. A population of 750K, a French heritage (at least historically) and we can’t manage at least one excellent restaurant.

    We are happy with crappy. Bon appetit!

  2. Certainly the activity with high end restaurants is an indicator of the health of an economy. The fine dinning in Halifax, of which there are a couple dozen choices, will set you back about $200 per couple. In Toronto, $300 a couple. These restaurants are only feasible where there is a vibrant economy. The fact that New Brunswick cannot sustain more ( there is the Windjammer and a few others) would indicate our economy is weak.

  3. I must admit that that is the one thing that has spoiled me in Waterloo, and that’s that you can get virtually any ethnic cuisine, many which emphasize flavours other than grease. It’s interesting that there is a movie coming out about the samosa restaurant at the Fredericton farmers market, where huge lineups were common for essentially deep fried meat. However, deep frying is also very popular here, its the canadian contribution to cuisine.
    For pizza, my favourite was always Greco Donair, which were swimming in grease. But my absolute most horrific complaint is always the fact that in St. John, right next to the ocean, and the vast majority of restaurants serve frozen fish! I remember going to Dublin and the chip stands were right next to the ocean and served the catch as soon as it came in. One hint for any NB restauranteur, if you want unhealthy, the irish deep fried their fish in beef fat. Man, was it good.
    I do think its mostly cultural, its primarily a blue collar province, and just look at the lineups to get into the Blue Canoe, which essentially serve ‘meat and potatoes’. That’s STARTING to change, but its a slow transition. I was an adult before I noticed that vegetables weren’t mushy tasteless blobs boiled to flavourlessness. The culture has always placed a strong emphasis on ‘work’, so food was what you stuffed in your face between jobs. In case people haven’t noticed, Wendy’s has become further americanized and introduced the ‘huge’ supersize. I remember being hungry at Harveys (canadian if you didn’t know) and asking for a large, and being told that their regular WAS large. I went to the farmers market here in this german town, and boy it was NOT pretty. There’s a strip mall here that has an asian restaurant next to a ‘family’ restaurant, and you’d think you were looking at two different planets. Look for canadians to soon give americans a run for the fat money.
    It should be noted that on a podcast about Africa, it appears there are large sections of africa where obesity is also becoming a problem.

  4. I’m not sure that its necessarily restaurants in the 200-300 dollar range that are indicative. Colonial countries often had very rich and very poor restaurants, and pre industrial economies. That kind of money may indicate differences amongst the very rich, for example, the stereotypical myths about Irving always eating at MacDonalds. We are in the upper income range, but I’d consider anything more than $30 a meal to be extravagant-that’s what fresh seafood meals would cost. Ironically, some of the best asian cuisine which is quite healthy, full of vegetables, and much more tasty, is also CHEAPER than going through Wendy’s.

    There is also the cultural differences-for example, when my parents come here they virtually always eat lunch at Tim Hortons. Just like coffee, its just extremely common. So the variety of restaurants isn’t ‘necessarily’ indicative of how often people eat out, only the fact that some cultures don’t like much variety. In our house growing up we had potatoes, some vegetables, and a different kind of meat. It’s still impossible to get my parents to eat curry-even mild curry. However, my in laws are the same age, but are ‘professionals’ and can’t wait to try something new in cuisine at every opportunity. Whether there’s a class difference there and why it exists I don’t know.

  5. Per capita, NB has one of the highest consumptions of alcohol, no? Maybe they should legislate a $25 dollar corking fee for those going to a recognized restaurant that has a wine list?

  6. The numbers do mean something: a sad reality for New Brunswickers. That reality is that people in most other provinces have more disposible income to spend on eating out. I’ve just moved here from BC and I can tell you that people here get paid much less, pay more in taxes and spend almost the same on necessary living expenses.

  7. If I get served frozen fish in Saint John or anywhere in New Brunswick ever again I will get up and walk out without paying and tell them I didn’t travel all this way for frozen when I could have had that at home.

  8. BC Girl, its important to distinguish that not ALL NBers get paid less. On ‘average’, we know that its far less, about 20 grand less than ontario. However, looking at ‘professions’ that’s not true. Teachers make roughly the same, as do government officials. Doctors and even nurses are pretty competitively paid, as well as SOME types of lawyers.

    Where the numbers plummet is in ‘social services’ as well as the private sector-which makes David’s job that much tougher. Plus, there are large sectors of the population that does not (and cannot) work full time, which brings the numbers down.

    And for those ‘professionals’ there is a big difference, a nice house in Fredericton costs less than a nice house in Vancouver. Its tough to even afford a decent place in downtown Toronto.

    So it does tend to come back to Davids constant refrain-IF there were parity in investment then New Brunswick wouldn’t look quite so bleak and would be a more desirable location for people to move to. As the poster above indicates, its not even going to be a retirement residence if health services aren’t close to other provinces, and with constantly lowering taxes there is no way that can happen without privatizing health care.

  9. BC Girl: You will soon learn why taxes are so high. The decent jobs are with government or government funded institutions. And our spending habits would indicate we are living like a very wealthy province.

    For example, we have 730,000 people and have 5 universities several with multiple campuses. We have just gone from no medical school (we bought seats in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) and now we have committed to two medical schools. We have a very low population density yet some of the best highway systems; toll free. We have airports in Fredericton, Moncton, Saint John and Bathurst (yes, for 730,00 people so that would be equivalent to 4 airports for greater Toronto). We bail out banks and construction companies. I could go on but won’t.

    I don’t deny us any of these luxuries; but only if we can afford to pay for them. What happens is that rather than one really good airport or one really good university, we get diluted and compromised efforts that are barely functional. We are spending like Ontario and don’t have the resources to support it. We need to adjust our expectations, live to our means and prioritize the things that are going to truely make us better. I will accept more potholes for better schools. I will tolerate fewer community halls if there were a more effective health care system. I would travel a couple hours to attend a world class university or fly out of a well serviced airport. Unfortunately, few people think this way and are becoming more demanding rather than more modest.

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