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Expect menu changes as restaurants continue to deal with higher food prices

Restaurants continue to make changes to deal with higher food prices
Posted at 1:27 PM, Mar 20, 2024

We don't have to tell you that eating out is expensive. You know that reality right now.

The latest government numbers show prices at restaurants were up more than 5% in January compared with a year ago.

That's a lot more than the price of groceries, which still cost more than they used to, but are up only just more than 1% from last year to this year.

Restaurants continue to make changes to deal with higher food prices.

"Looking at what's gone on with labor costs, labor costs for the past couple of years have been at historic highs, just as food costs have been, so consequently operators have had to move up those menu prices," said Hudson Riehle with the National Restaurant Association.

A recent report from the National Restaurant Association looking at the state of the industry for this year found you can also expect changes to menus to happen more frequently.

Those changes can include taking things off the menu, changing the size of meals, or substituting foods that cost less.

"We definitely expect price inflation to moderate. It doesn't mean that it's going back to that 1 to 3-percent annual increases which were in existence prior to the onset of the pandemic," said Riehle.

Another thing you can expect to see more of at restaurants this year is loyalty and rewards programs.

But also expect to see who is waiting on you to change.

The major staffing shortages we saw during the pandemic aren't there anymore.

But the people who run restaurants say recruitment is still their top challenge.

The National Restaurant Association found more restaurants plan to use gig workers this year to fill in the gaps.

They also plan to rely more on technology and automation to deal with the shortages.