Local restaurants feeling pinch as food prices climb

by: Peter Daut Updated:

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CHARLOTTE —

As prices of everyday food items climb to record levels, local restaurants are feeling the pinch.

At The Common Market in Plaza Midwood, owner Blake Barnes just made a not-so-common decision: Soaring costs on staples like meat, dairy and produce have forced him to raise menu prices for the first time in several years.

"We're pricing out add-ons a little bit differently than we used to, so if you want to add something on top of what we're doing, there's definitely an up-charge now and there used to be not much of one," Barnes said.

According to a new report from the bureau of labor statistics, overall food costs rose 0.4 percent in February, the most in more than two years. Some of the food prices rising the fastest include bacon, which is up 13 percent from last year, ground beef, which is up eight percent, and oranges, which are up a whopping 23 percent. Other items on the rise include grapefruits, limes and eggs.

Queens University agriculture expert Dr. Greg Pillar said the climbing costs can be blamed on harsh weather conditions and an increase in demand for exports. He also said don't expect prices to drop anytime soon.

"These prices could be here to stay for a while, if not increase even more in the coming months to years," he said.

Barnes said most customers have not noticed the change in price, and does not see it taking a bite out of business.

"I've got a gut feeling everything's going to stay where it is," Barnes said.