Many B.C. residents are heading south to save a surprising amount of money on basic groceries this summer. CTV consumer reporter Lynda Steele took a trip to Bellingham to find out the best deals on groceries.

Andrew Gerard and his family brave the border once a week to take advantage of cheaper prices in Bellingham, Washington.

"It's only a couple of minutes away. Wait in line 20 minutes to save a couple hundred dollars? Sure, I'll do that anytime," said Gerard.

Gerard figures he's saving about $150 a week. That's $600 a month, or over $7,000 dollars a year. So Lynda Steele decided to do her own cost comparison.

Dairy products were an eye opener. One pound of unsalted butter in the U.S. goes for $3.69 U.S., compared to $5.49 in Canada. A dozen large eggs cost $1.89 in the U.S., compared to $2.69 in Canada. A four litre jug of milk is $2.99 in the states and $4.39 in Canada. Cheese differed in price dramatically. A two-pound block in the U.S. was $4.99, compared to a two-pound block in Canada that retailed at $16.25.

The Canadian Consumers Association says the dairy industry is the most heavily subsidized in Canada, which means consumers pay a hidden tax every time they go through the checkout till with those products.

"With dairy products, we as Canadians subsidize the dairy industry to almost three billion dollars a year," said Bruce Cran of the Canadian Consumer Association.

When it comes to meat products, a bag of frozen chicken breasts will cost you $6.99 U.S. The same item in Canada costs you twice as much, over $13.00.

"We had a customer who was shopping and her son was sitting in the cart and he asked his mom, ‘why do we have to keep coming here?' And she said because we can't afford the food in Vancouver," said Fred Meyer spokesperson Carol Shires.

You are allowed to bring a certain amount of groceries back duty-free, even if you were only in the U.S. for the day. Here's a look at the limits:

  • 20-kilograms of meat
  • $20 dollars/person of dairy products.
  • No fresh fruit or vegetables
  • Unlimited canned, frozen and dry goods (for personal use only)

Most basic grocery items are not taxed, with the exception of things like chips and pop. The bottom line is if you would have to pay HST on the item in Canada, you'll have to pay tax at the border.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lynda Steele