Menu prices hit 40 year high

By National Restaurant Association

Growth in menu prices continued to rise sharply in November, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average menu prices increased 5.8% between November 2020 and November 2021, which represented the strongest 12-month gain since 1982.

Grocery store prices also accelerated in recent months, jumping 6.4% above year-ago levels. That marked the largest 12-month increase in grocery store prices since 2008. Meanwhile, the 6.8% increase in overall consumer prices represented the highest inflation rate since 1982.

The recent uptick in menu prices was due largely to higher input costs – particularly food and labor. In a November 2021 survey fielded by the Association, 91% of operators said their total food costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Similarly, 79% of operators said their total labor costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were before the pandemic.

Prices for limited-service meals and snacks increased 7.9% between November 2020 and November 2021, while fullservice restaurant menu prices were up 6.0%. Both represented the strongest 12-month gains since the segment-specific menu-price data series began in 1998.

Fullservice and Limited-service Menu Prices

On a regional level, the Midwest (7.2%) and Northeast (6.9%) regions experienced the strongest menu-price gains between November 2020 and November 2021. Average menu prices in the West (5.1%) and South (4.9%) regions posted smaller gains during the last 12 months.

Track more economic indicators and read more analysis and commentary from the Association’s chief economist Bruce Grindy.

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