Why you are seeing increased restaurant pricesAugust 10, 2022 by Darcie
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when lockdowns were the order of the day, cooking at home had lost its luster, and takeout just wasn’t cutting it anymore, most of us would have given our eyeteeth to be able to sit down in a restaurant and be treated to a proper dining experience, cost be damned. Well, today the last part of that scenario is definitely happening, as continued supply chain disruptions, climate change-induced weather events, and the fallout of a large scale war in an important food growing region have converged to push restaurant bills to new heights.
The New York Times took one Charlotte, North Carolina restaurant bill and broke it down item by item to explain how each of the costs had increased since 2019, showing how everything from wine to packaging to meat had become more expensive. (The article should be free for anyone to view using the link above.) Some items have increased by a modest amount, like carrots at 14% over their 2019 cost, but other items have skyrocketed in price, such as canola oil, which shot up by over 150% in the same time frame. The price increases depend on the factors most involved for each commodity: war has limited supplies of cooking oils, drought has decimated US wine crops, labor shortages at ports combined with increased fuel costs have meant price spikes in some imported ingredients that arrive by boat and then are trucked cross-country.
On average, restaurants have seen their profit margins shrink by about 80 percent since pre-pandemic days, according to the National Restaurant Association. It’s not only food costs that are rising, everything from takeout packaging to labor costs to natural gas has jumped in varying amounts. If you have been experiencing sticker shock at your restaurant tabs recently, this article puts some of the cost increases into context.
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