Food costs are lower this summer, thanks to a surplus of pork, chicken, beef and even coffee, according to industry analysts and the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
“There’s plenty of pork to be had,” said commodities analyst John Barone. “It should continue flowing.”
According to Hudson Riehle, NRA’s head of research, wholesale food prices overall were down 2.9 percent through April on a year-to-date basis.
“Restaurant operators can expect to see an overall general decline in wholesale food prices this year, especially in commodities like beef, pork and eggs, as herds and flocks are recovering from recent challenges,” he says.
Only 6 percent of restaurant operators now rate food costs as their top challenge, down from 14 percent at this time last year, according to the NRA’s monthly Tracking Survey.
Riehle says fresh vegetables are trending up at double-digits, reflecting the sustained drought conditions in places like California. “Operators of salad-focused concepts could feel more of a pinch as the year progresses.”
The USDA projects pork production will increase 1.9 percent in 2016 vs. last year, after increasing 7.2 percent in 2015 over 2014. That should lead to lower prices through 2017. Chicken stock should rise about 2.6 percent over last year. Beef is looking meaty after a mild winter and spring. Its production should grow 4.8 percent following last year’s 2.3 percent decline.