Ongoing challenges seem to be hitting the restaurant industry “one after another”

As the restaurant industry recovers from the latest round of provincial restrictions imposed earlier this year, operators face an ongoing challenge of higher food prices and fears it could deter people from going out. at the restaurant.

Restaurants Canada vice-president for central Canada, James Rilett, said some operators may have to adjust their menu prices, if they haven’t already, due to product increases and costs. associates.

The Canadian Food Price Report 2022, published in a collaboration between several Canadian universities, indicates that the largest increases are expected for dairy products and restaurants, at 6 to 8%.

Rilett said he has noticed a steady rise in food prices, especially meat, for just over a year, however, the continued rise is adding more pressure on traders. He said challenges seem to be hitting the industry one after another.

“It’s just a confluence of events that continues to hit the restaurant industry. I think at the end of the day, we’re going to have no choice but to see menu prices go up,” Rilett said. “No one in the industry wants to do that. It hits customers hard and every time you raise prices you risk losing customers. That’s the last thing we want to do, but there’s no plenty of choice in most cases.

Besides the rising cost of food and its associated costs, Rilett said other costs have increased during the pandemic, such as utilities, insurance and an increase in the minimum wage.

“It seems like everything goes uphill and everything that comes into a restaurant gets affected,” he said.

The province will cautiously lift public health restrictions in the coming months. From January 31, restaurants will be able to reopen at 50% capacity.

Rilett said every time indoor restaurants are closed, a financial impact is felt “pretty much across the entire industry.” The difference with this last shutdown in January was the emotional toll it took on the operators.

“What we’re seeing are historical levels of debt that restaurants have accumulated,” Rilett said. “This latest shutdown, coming as it happened, really affected people a lot and they were just tired of everything. We are really worried about the mental health of the operators and staff.”

Restaurants Canada has asked the various levels of government for additional support. A Restaurants Canada survey conducted last summerfound that eight out of 10 independent restaurateurs have taken on debt due to the COVID-19 crisis.

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Cecil N. Messick