Some people are calling it the “perfect storm,” and you’ll pay for it. Wholesale prices are through the roof, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trending sharply higher in April for the fourth consecutive month. Pork is up nearly 10%, poultry is up nearly 6%, fresh fruit is up nearly 10%, even dairy is up over 3%.
International demand for food, domestic demand and supply challenges is causing food economist Isaac Olvera to call this a perfect storm, and that was before the world’s largest meatpacker got hacked. According to the USDA food prices increased 3.14% from 2019 to last year and are projected to rise another 2-4% this year, which is going to be felt by restaurant owners struggling to resurface after a tough year. The USDA projects food products for at-home consumption will increase 1-2% this year.
But for those in the food business, that’s only the obvious part of the equation. The cost of grain is a big driver, especially corn. Animals eat it, people eat it, it’s central to tons of products, and the costs are going up. If you like eating out, expect to watch the prices on menus climb up.
Anna Tauzin, Chief Revenue and Innovation Officer for the Texas Restaurant Association says they recently polled owners in Texas to get a gauge of what they’re seeing. “Of the more than 100 restaurateurs that we polled, asking if they had raised their menu prices since January, a full 60% said yes they had, and 30% said not yet.”
If we learned nothing else from this pandemic we have collectively discovered our collective cultural investment in and appreciation for our favorite restaurants. Doors are open, they’re trying to keep staffed, and are finding their bills higher than ever before.
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