Lamb, crab, steaks under threat as restaurants face spiraling costs
A sharp rise in prices could cause racks of lamb, crab claws and tenderloin steaks to disappear from restaurant menus, according to a well-known restaurateur.
Gina Murphy, owner of Hugo’s restaurant in Dublin’s Merrion Row, said the past five to six weeks had seen “massive, massive price increases” across the industry.
Ms Murphy, from Ballina in County Mayo, who grew up in the family-run Bartra House hotel, warned restaurants were doing everything they could to keep prices down.
However, she acknowledged that at some point the increases will have to be passed on to customers.
“We’ve had massive, massive price increases from all of our suppliers over the last five or six weeks,” she said..
“Unfortunately the war in Ukraine has really impacted everything and the cost of goods has just gone up – I mean we’ve seen price increases of around 30% on most of the goods we’re buying right now.
“A can of milk I bought was €8.50 and it’s now gone to €13.60, all in the last five or six weeks. A can of unsalted butter I was buying was €51, we are now at €13.60 72.50 Another container of chicken pieces we use for a particular dish would have been €32, we are now at €43.20 So these are all massive increases .
Ms Murphy said all restaurants in Ireland were “dodge and dive” to try to avoid jacking up prices on their menus.
“We’re trying to rebuild our menus to try to keep prices down, but when you have items like butter going up like that, I mean it’s a staple ingredient in a lot of our cooking. You know, you would use butter in your sauces, in your pastries, in your pastry section… but everything is on the rise.
“The other day I got a 14% raise on paper towels. Just little things like that. My utility bills skyrocketed.”
Ms Murphy said the pricing pressures come on top of two devastating years in which the hospitality industry came to a virtual standstill due to the pandemic.
She warned that it was vital that hotel VAT remained at 9%.
“If we get a VAT increase to 13.5%, it has to be passed on directly to customers because it’s not a tax for us; it is a consumer tax. So that’s one thing to help us keep prices low.
“I mean we operate on very, very tight margins, so a price difference of 1% or 2% can be the difference between breaking even and making a loss,” she said, adding that the last two years have been “horrible” for the industry. .