menu prices

US full-service menu prices see record inflation

Full-service menu prices in the U.S. rose 8.7 per cent in April year-over-year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the segment’s highest increase since data was first collected in 1997.

Overall, the food away from home index rose 7.2 per cent year over year, while the price of quick-service products grew seven per cent. 

Full-service restaurants hadn’t seen greater monthly year-over-year inflation than quick-service restaurants south of the border since March 202, but it has now happened for two months in a row.

On a month-to-month basis, prices for food away from home increased 0.6 per cent in April, double the 0.3 per cent rise seen in March. Full-service restaurants had the largest monthly increase, up 0.9 per cent, compared with a hike of 0.3 per cent for the limited-service segment.

While menu price inflation has hovered at or near 40-year highs for several months now, it remains considerably lower than prices at grocery stores in the U.S. Food-at-home prices rose 10.8 per cent in April from the same level a year ago, the largest increase in that index since November 1980.

The producer price index for food is up even more. Wholesale food prices are up more than 17 per cent over the past year, according to BLS data, the highest in five decades.

That inflation is likely the result of several factors including the general rise in prices across the industry and beyond, as well as a continually stretched supply chain and more.

Restaurants across the U.S., as well as in Canada, continue to implement price hikes as commodity and labour pressures persist. They have also been raising prices to keep pace with the higher cost of hiring people and buying food. Wage rates for nonsupervisory leisure and hospitality workers, including restaurants, are up nearly 13 per cent over the past year, according to BLS data.