The effects of COVID-19 on Florida’s food industry continue to persist. The state is experiencing an increase in food prices due to labor and supply shortages for importing companies.
Food distributor Shelly Chen is seeing the impacts on her customers. While she said price increases haven’t forced business closures, her customers are taking note of the recent changes.
“Business owners do notice the price increase and ask us about it,” Chen said. “But with the demand of product so high, prices will not be dropping any time soon.”
Restaurants are short-staffed across the state and have been forced to limit their operating hours. With importing companies in need of staff, it’s become increasingly difficult for restaurants to receive their food supply on time. In September, Gainesville businesses struggled to fill the 11,000 job openings in the county, according to the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce.
According to a study from Supermarket News, American consumers plan on eating at home more often in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Restaurant customers in Gainesville are also expressing plans to eat out less. University of Florida student Aaron Lerner says while he still plans to go out to dinner with friends, he won’t do so as often. He also chooses meals carefully based on price when he does dine out.
“Obviously, I try not to get something super expensive when I go out,” he said.
Hana Sushi, a restaurant in Gainesville, offers sushi and hibachi. As a result of the labor and supply shortages, their hibachi prices have increased by $2 since the middle of September.
Chen says restaurants should communicate these recent price changes to their patrons.
“I recommend to all my customers to adjust their menu prices accordingly due to these product price increases,” Chen said.