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Some experts don't expect food cost to decrease anytime soon

food costs
Posted at 5:11 PM, Feb 08, 2023

CLEVELAND — As everybody’s grocery bills continue to rise, so does their restaurant tab. Experts say food costs aren’t expected to go down anytime soon and that has forced restaurants to get creative.

“It feels like inflation reduction is happening and an end is in sight to kind of run-away inflation. But food prices remain high,” said Michael Goldberg, associate professor in the Department of Design Innovation, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.

The United States Department of Agriculture predicts that in 2023 food at home will increase by 8% and food away from home by 8.2%.

It's something Fat Cats in Tremont continues to battle.

“There's a direct link between the prices at the store and the one you can actually charge to the customer,” said Fat Cats Owner and Chef Ricardo Sandoval.

He’s had his farm to table restaurant for a little over 26 years.

“Farm to table is getting to know your farmer, where the food source comes from,” said Sandoval.

Sandoval has even grown his own ingredients. He says having that one on one with the farmer honestly helps him manage his costs, but in this inflated economy not every extra dollar can be avoided.

“Inflation touches everybody, every aspect of the food chain. So, inflation could affect whatever products they are buying, could be seed, could be water,” said Sandoval.

Experts at CWRU say prices may not get better anytime soon for a few reasons.

“One is weather. So, I think what we're seeing here in Ohio when we're reading about either storms in California or drought in California, we don't think that about the impact of all of our local food prices,” said Goldberg.

If you look price increase predictions for 2023, the USDA predicts groceries will go up by 7.1%, some items even more so.

  • Eggs: 27.3 %
  • Dairy products: 8%
  • Meats: 12.8%

But one way to combat it is with substitutions, which is exactly what Sandoval does with his menu. What helps him is having a QR code and a digital menu. So he can continuously change, add or take off items—helping him keep his quality at an affordable rate.

“So, if you decide it's budget Tuesday and you want to come in here, you can have a glass of wine or a beer and something to eat way under 30 bucks,” said Sandoval.

Though somethings might not make it the menu until the cost goes down. There is always something new to try.

“I just loved the challenge of changing the menu all the time.” Sandoval said. “I think all together when it comes to prices, I think everybody needs to pivot, look if it’s of reach, change.”

Experts say it’s hard to predict when cost will go down, so the best thing is to adjust.

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