Chicken price hike impacting local businesses

Business News

BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) ─ When customers walk into the Bristol House of Pizza, they’re greeted by a sign which states some of the restaurant’s prices have increased because the costs of certain products have increased.

Owner Greg Gatos tells 12 News the cost of chicken specifically has skyrocketed.

“Before we knew it, it went from $1.09, $1.12 a pound up to $1.80, $2. Now it’s approaching $3,” he said.

Gatos said the price of chicken is the latest hurdle the pandemic has thrown at his business.

“Our two biggest factors right now are the cost of goods and help,” Gatos said. “Things are so bad, that this past Sunday we stayed closed.”

A recent report from U.S. Foods states that fresh, boneless chicken thighs and wings were selling at record-high prices.

Royal Poultry Inc. owner Constantine Marses tells 12 News the lack of workers in chicken factories is part of the reason for the price hike.

“People have just not gone back to work, even down in the south where most of these plants are,” Marses said. “Most of the guys, their excuse is [the factories] are only operating at 65% with 100% of demand.”

It’s not just the lack of workers, however. Marses said their company processes roughly 30,000 pounds of chicken per week, and the price for the packaging materials they use are increasing, which is forcing them to increase the price of their products.

“Most Rhode Islanders are used to $1.99 boneless skinless chicken breasts. They’re not going to see that for a while,” Marses said. “Because of that explosion in home delivery, corrugated boxes have doubled in prices. So plastics, all that stuff … it goes into the final cost.”

Despite having to raise his prices, Gatos said his customers have been understanding because they’re seeing the price increases themselves.

“A lot of customers go to the market and what they used to spend $100 and fill up a bag now they’re spending $40, $50 and the bag is empty,” Gatos said.

Gatos said they’ve only increased the prices on chicken items by $1. His business, Gato said, would “eat the other cost.”

It’s still unclear if the cost of chicken will go down or when that will happen.

“I think after the 4th of July, you’ll see it start to be steady and I think after that, the next trend will be down,” Marses said.

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