Food Prices Going Up and Then Some

It’s been a tumultuous week.

I got riled up when I saw throughout the web numerous gripes about a new yakitori restaurant–Yakitori Zai–in Boston’s South End.  All these clowns writing in to complain that it cost $50-75 or so per person to eat yakitori there.  Not necessarily: Depends on how much you order.  Anyway, folks, that’s what it costs to eat a dozen sticks of good yakitori anywhere: It’s the quality of the chicken, the sauce, the chef’s training.  And: Why eat so much?  Why not settle for 3-4 sticks?

These are the same people who write at length on Chowhound & Yelp & other sites about where to get the best cocktail.  $12 cocktails.  It’s like the Man in Kyoto said to me when discussing the $45 matsutake mushroom at the grill we sat at: “Cheaper than champagne.”  The gripers are happy to spend $ on alcohol, but balk when it comes to beautiful food.

Speaking of high prices for food, the NY Times reports today that food prices will go up next year.  That’s OK, though, right?  Because your wages are going up, too!  No?  Uh oh.

Here’s what’s happening: Beef: Up 4-5%.  Dairy: 3.5%-4.5%.  Eggs: 3-4%.  Pork: 2.5-3.5%.

The article notes: “Americans spend just 13 percent of their household budgets on food. The falling price of gasoline — fuel and transportation costs being a major component of prices at restaurants and grocery stores — will help temper any price increases.”

That 13% is a remarkable figure: Way lower than the generations before.  But it’s not uniform.  The article notes: “’It is one extra kick in the stomach,’” for low-income families, said Chris G. Christopher, senior principal economist at IHS, a consulting firm. “’There’s a lot of people in this country living paycheck to paycheck. This is not a good thing for them.’”

There’s always cake.


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