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‘Every week it’s a challenge:’ Restaurant industry impacted by supply chain crisis

Posted at 7:15 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 19:39:20-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — ,Restaurants nationwide continue to face a variety challenges since opening back up. First, it was the labor shortage. Now, it’s the supply chain crisis.

Fred’s Italian Restaurant on Plainfield is feeling the impact.

“One week you can’t get appetizers. The next week, you can’t get chicken. Then, it is like you say, seafood,” said owner Sam Pizzo during an interview on Monday afternoon. “I mean, every week it’s a challenge. You have no idea what you’re going to be out of.”

So, to adjust they’ve taken a few items off of the menu. He said meats, like chicken and pork, are the most expensive to obtain these days.

“Steaks are just outrageous. I mean, we took them completely off the menu,” Pizzo said. “Wings are another one. Oh my gosh, wings are just out of sight.”

Michigan State University’s Jason Miller said the supply chain issue is impacting many businesses everywhere.

“Right now, especially in the food space probably the biggest pressure that restaurants and consumers are facing is just inflationary prices,” said Miller, associate professor of supply chain at MSU. “We’ve seen this especially on the side of meats [which] are up over 20 percent pricing wise since before the pandemic. Flour is more expensive than any type of product.”

Miller added that the price of fruits and canned fruit are up as well. Wheat and oil seeds are expensive too.

“So right now really on the food standpoint a lot of the price increase is just due to elevated commodity prices,” Miller said during the Zoom interview. “Farm products have been essentially the highest level we’ve seen since the early part of the last decade of 2012, 2013.”

However, as high as everything is now Miller said he foresees things returning to normal by middle of next year when the pandemic will hopefully under control.

“Tho thing I always urge with folks is patience. At the end of the day there's still plenty of food on the shelves. It’s just not exactly the specific item that you want,” Miller said. “My statement is be patient with supply chain professionals. We’ve had to deal with the worst disruption that anybody can remember in at least going back to World War II.”

Pizzo believes that it may take longer to rebound.

Nevertheless, he wants his customers to know that at Fred’s are they doing their best to satisfy their customer’s dining experience.

“I want them to know we’re trying everything we can to keep our food costs down and our supply fully stocked,” Pizzo said. “Other than that, we’re doing our best.”

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