Food makers dishing out higher prices

Johnette Funtanilla
Johnette Funtanilla
Clayton Wong
Clayton Wong

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The "breakfast of champions" could soon become the "breakfast of the wealthy." This box of Wheaties costs almost seven dollars and several food manufacturers, including General Mills, which makes Wheaties, plan to raise prices on many of their products.

With five kids to feed, Johnette Funtanilla knows how to be a bargain grocery shopper.

"I come a little bit everyday, just buy a little bit everyday, just so that I don't feel the pain so much, all at one time," Funtanilla said.

Lately, Funtanilla has noticed the family's 300-dollar-a-week food bill creeping higher.

"I walk out spending a lot more, walking out with a lot less," Funtanilla said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that food inflation is on the rise in the final months of this year and will continue to climb the first half of 2011. Consumers will see the biggest hikes in meat, cereal, and dairy products. Pork and beef have gone up three to five percent since last year, and the USDA forecasts overall costs to rise two to three percent next year.

One big reason why food prices are spiking? Demand for meat in places like China and India are driving up grain prices - and that then leads to higher food costs here at home.

Bob's Barbeque in Kalihi has been firing up the grill and dishing out homemade rib specials since 1978. But with the downturn in the economy and higher business costs, they've had to absorb some losses. Now, they're just trying to stabilize their menu prices.

"Overall, we're okay. Our prices are going to actually be finalized for about a year or so, and then, from then on, if it does inflate to a whole lot, where we can't control it, we're going to have to increase it," Bob's BBQ's Clayton Wong said.

Controlling costs will be a challenge. Manufacturers like Sara Lee, Kraft Foods and General Mills all announced product price hikes, and experts say that's bound to trickle down the food aisle.

Look for the trickle down at fast food restaurants, as well. McDonald's, Domino's, and Starbucks have all announced changes to their prices.

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