KOCHI: Rapidly rising fuel prices and the cost of basic commodities have squeezed budgets for homes and commercial establishments, especially hotels and restaurants. While the rising price of fuel makes logistics more expensive, the high rate of vegetables, meat, fish and other items makes daily kitchen operations difficult.
For example, the price of beans went from Rs 70 to Rs 80 in just one week. Cooking expenses are also skyrocketing due to rising cooking gas prices. With the easing of pandemic restrictions, many restaurants are also spending on the maintenance and repair of their dining spaces.
This imbalance between expenses and revenues has derailed many businesses. The only way out for most of them is to raise the price of the food they offer. But they can’t do that either. In recent talks with the minister for civil supplies and separate collectors, the hotel and catering association pledged not to raise food prices sharply.
Earlier this week, Ernakulam collector Jafar Malik also ordered strict measures against restaurants and hotels that raise food prices exorbitantly, bearing in mind the Vishu and Ramzan seasons. . Hotels suddenly raising prices for plated food would also drive away customers, a reaction they cannot risk now, after two years of lackluster business due to the Covid pandemic.
“Earlier this month, we slightly revised the menu prices. We therefore have no intention of increasing prices again, regardless of the price increase. Customers are slowly returning to restaurants. A sudden price hike would scare them,” said one of the employees of Calicut Notebook, a restaurant in Kaloor.
“Rising prices have hit us hard. Now, to get a single menu card printed, we have to pay Rs 2000. Imagine printing a new pile for your hotel. Experimenting on the menu is also impossible as we cannot afford it at the moment,” says Johnson Philip, General Manager of MRA Hotel, Edappally. According to Jayapal G, State Secretary General of Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association, the hospitality industry is caught between wanting to attract more customers and having to bear rising prices. They are also healing from the crisis caused by the pandemic. “Many hotels had to hire more staff after the restaurant opened. We hope vegetable prices will come down in the coming days when there are enough summer rains in Tamil Nadu,” he added.