January 15, 2016 1:00 pm
Updated: January 15, 2016 8:57 pm

Higher food costs hurting Edmonton restaurants

WATCH ABOVE: Diners may soon see higher menu prices as restaurants face higher food prices. As Julia Wong explains, some Edmonton businesses are even rethinking their menus.

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EDMONTON – Local restaurants are feeling the pinch of rising food costs, and some warn they may have to pass it on to the customer.

A study from the University of Guelph states prices will rise in 2016. It expects meat costs to rise between 2.5 and 4.5 per cent, vegetable costs to rise between two and four per cent and fruit and nut costs to rise between 2.5 and 4.5 per cent.

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The report cites the low Canadian dollar and the impact of El Nino on the climate for the increase.

Debbie Parker, chef and co-owner of High Level Diner, said food prices have gone up dramatically for the local restaurant.

The diner increased its prices in the fall; Parker said the restaurant may have to pass the higher food costs onto the customer with another increase this year.

Maya Pramitha, the owner of Padmandi Vegetarian Restaurant, said the restaurant is also seeing much higher produce prices.

She cites the example of cauliflower formerly selling at $2.50; now she said she buys it for $5.

“It is taking a chunk out of our profits definitely,” she said.

Pramitha said the restaurant expects there will soon be a price adjustment on its menus because she does not foresee prices going down anytime soon.

READ MORE: Local food prices affected by low Canadian dollar

It is a similar story for Lisa Zenari, the owner of Zenari’s, who is concerned about the rising food costs.

“It’s kind of crazy,” she said of produce prices, adding she sees some produce selling for three times their previous costs.

“It’s making things challenging. We had a conversation this week with the kitchen staff about changing menu items with produce that is cheaper,” she said.

Zenari said she used to buy a case of peppers for $30. She is now spending $80 per case.

She said her kitchen is now trying to be creative to work around the more expensive food items. Rather than making a sweet pepper soup, the kitchen now uses other vegetables that are cheaper, such as potatoes, carrots and leeks.

However, she is trying to stay clear of passing the increases onto the customer.

“It’s a tough economy and we don’t want to increase prices,” she said.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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