Basic Groceries

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Zero-rated food and beverages

Most products sold in grocery and convenience stores are zero-rated basic grocery items. Examples of zero-rated groceries include:

  • meat, such as beef, poultry, pork, lamb, prepared meats and sausages
  • cereals
  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • eggs
  • bread
  • fish
  • dairy products, such as unflavoured milk, cheese, butter, cream and yogurt

Other zero-rated food and beverages

A number of goods are zero-rated when sold in certain quantities or packaging sizes. Examples of such goods include:

  • assortments of six or more individual portions of sweetened baked goods, such as pies, tarts and cupcakes
  • containers holding at least 500 mL or 500 g of:
    • ice cream
    • similar products
  • packages containing more than one individual portion (less than 425 g) of pudding
  • portions of 600 mL or more of:
    • a fruit beverage containing at least 25% natural fruit juice
    • vegetable juice
    • non-carbonated water
  • food and beverage products specially prepared and packaged for consumption by babies

Taxable food and beverages

Examples of taxable food and beverages are:

  • food heated for consumption
  • alcoholic beverages
  • hot beverages, such as coffee and tea
  • carbonated beverages
  • carbonated mineral water
  • candy
  • snacks, such as cheese sticks, pretzels, potato chips and popcorn

Deposits on bottles and cans

The GST and QST are not applied on refundable deposits on beverage containers, such as bottles and cans.

Vending machines

All food and beverages sold through vending machines are taxable, except for those sold through machines that accept a coin of $0.25 or less per transaction, including products such as milk and fruit that are normally zero-rated.

Where applicable, the prices of food and beverages sold through vending machines include the GST and QST.

Note

Where taxable products account for at least 90% of total food and beverage sales in an establishment, food and beverage items that are normally zero-rated become taxable.

For example, if a cafeteria, where taxable food and beverage items account for at least 90% of the total sale of food and beverages, sells an apple, GST and QST must also be applied to the sale price of the apple even though apples are normally zero-rated.

However, prepared food and beverage items not destined for immediate consumption remain zero-rated. The nature of the product and the quantity sold or the packaging size must be considered (for example, bags of coffee and 2 L containers of ice cream are both zero-rated).

For more information, see the brochure The QST and the GST/HST: How They Apply to Foods and Beverages (IN-216-V).

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