And the Cost of Vittles Just Keeps Going Up….

It’s not your imagination- food prices have been heading in one direction and will continue to soar another 5-7% by the end of the year.

Honestly, that seems like a very conservative estimate to me- try 5-7% within the next month.

I was really looking forward to a big bowl of wontons and noodles when we were in Chinatown a week and a half ago. When it got to the table, the first thing I noticed was the smaller bowls. We dug in anyway because we were hungry but my mom also noticed a decline in the quality of the wontons themselves. I had to agree but I wasn’t sure what they added to the mixture.

It was only a matter of time before they started to change the quantity and quality of food because it is cheaper to do that than change all the menus- besides, how many people will notice.

This morning, I walked by one of the many stores selling those Vietnamese buns with pickled daikon and carrot and mystery meat. Over the weekend they increased the price from $1.75 to $2. They even changed the sign completely- they had removed the old makeshift $1.75 sign which had covered the old $1 sign.

The thinking is the intense competition between the major grocery stores and with other retailers (Walmart, Zellers, Shoppers) who are dedicating more floor space for food has kept the prices low but the dramatic rise in commodity prices was bound to have an impact sooner than later and later is now.

This past weekend, one of the loss leaders offered at Shoppers was just over 5% more than what it was offered at two weeks ago. I will bet the smart people at Shoppers setting the prices don’t know that people like me remember this kind of stuff since 11 cents would seem like such an insignificant number…. But 5% is still 5%.

Even Tim Horton’s is stating the likelihood of raising prices to offset the rise in the price of coffee beans.

And this is only the beginning.

This morning there was a story on the rise in price of barley and how this will likely correspond to a rise in the price of beer but since the big brewers usually lock themselves into longer term contracts to stabilize their costs, we may not feel the effects for a few months. But if other smaller brewers are forced to raise their prices, you can pretty much guarantee  the larger brewers will take the opportunity to do the same- who wouldn’t take the opportunity to increase their margins a little bit even if they don’t have to?

But the rise in price of raw materials is only one part of the equation. The cost of fuel used to transport the products (and the raw material that goes into making said products) just adds to the cost and this, of course, eventually trickles down to you and me.

And what does this mean? Inflation.

The prices will rise (and rise) and I will be that much more careful to comparison shop. I’ll be eating out even less so it is a good thing I like to cook. I may just have to start baking more because the bakeries in Chinatown will have to increase their prices sooner than later or they will go under.

My mom just shakes her head when we talk about this stuff and she has already stated her intention to expand our garden this summer. We will also have to be strategic about what we intend to plant since my back yard is small.

This may sound a little extreme to some but I doubt very much that my salary will rise to meet the rise in costs. It’s not that I’m afraid I will not be able to eat- I just don’t want to be caught with my pants down if something unexpected happens.

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~ by angryegg on March 8, 2011.

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