Inflation leaves restaurants, wholesalers struggling with food prices

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It’s no secret that we’re paying more to go out to eat at local restaurants, which are facing struggles when it comes to getting food to customers. The suppliers they use are having the same issues getting the food on their shelves, with labor issues and fuel prices meaning they have to charge more.

Cafe One Eleven in Albany told NewsChannel 13 when they buy food right now, sometimes they’re paying double for less food than just a few months ago.

“We’re seeing them probably two to three times a week, where we go to get something from one of our suppliers, they don’t have it. They next day then they may have it, but they’ve doubled in cost. It’s been really difficult,” said the cafe’s owner, MaryEllen Dibiase.

She said they’re trying not to pass that on to the customers in the form of higher prices. She just had to raise prices recently, and needs to do it again. However, she says she would rather eat the cost than see her customers have to stop coming in for lunch.

“To be honest with you, we would be changing prices every day. Because that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing, I’m paying $40 for that but tomorrow I might be paying $60 or I might be paying $80 or I’m not going to get it, I’m not going to have it at all,” Dibiase said.

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Restaurant Depot supplies food across the U.S., and to thousands of customers in the Capital Region. Restaurants shop its massive Colonie warehouse like a grocery store.

Eddie Catalano is the director of operations for the company’s stores in the Northeast. He said they’re having trouble sourcing a variety of products right now, and when they do get what their customers need, the pricing is variable, and much more expensive than just a year ago.

Catalano said the nationwide labor shortage, the high cost of fuel and issues with crops can explain why a simple product like potatoes is so much more expensive to get on their shelves — and why Restaurant Depot can be delivered less product at the same price.

“That labor shortage has translated to a lack of tractor trailer drivers getting us the product. It’s translated to the suppliers not being able to have the production output that they did have pre-COVID. So it’s just been a constant trickle-down effect over the last two years, and it’s been tough,” Catalano said.

A ribeye that cost $7, is now more than $12 a pound. Potatoes that were 40¢ each are up to a dollar.

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Dibiase said with no end in sight, this is the last thing the cafe needs in a string of uncertainty throughout the COVID pandemic.