‘We have no choice’: As inflation rises, plate lunch prices are ticking up and up

Samie Solina explains how inflation is causing a price increase in one of Hawaii's go-to meals.
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 10:53 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 1:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are many ways to measure the impacts of inflation on household budgets, but there’s one indicator unique to Hawaii.

Plate lunches.

Alicia’s Market in Kalihi is famous for them, but these days they’re a bit pricier.

“So for our Hawaiian plate, we just have had to raise it another $2 today,” said Brad Kam, a manager whose family has run Alicia’s for decades. “The price of the pork has gone up.

“And that along with just the vegetables, the stuff to make the lomi salmon, this everything has gone up.”

They wish they didn’t have to pass the costs to customers.

“We have to raise the prices, the prices are raised on us,” Kam said. “So we ultimately have no choice. We also have to raise the pay of our workers, too, because inflation is going up, they need more money to pay their bills.”

According to the latest government figures, beef prices have increased 9.6% in the past year, pork has gone up 6.3%, and chicken prices have soared by 17.3%. June also marked the sixth consecutive month of international rice price increases, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index.

“The cost of just even the basics, like rice, potatoes, any of our condiments are going up because of the cost of fuel, because the cost of shipping, said Sheryl Matsuoka, the executive director of the Hawaii Restaurant Assocation. She is also a partner of a plate lunch place herself, Rainbow Drive-In in Kalihi.

“They’re also seeing increases in all their paper supplies, and takeout containers,” Matsuoka said.

She said restaurants are in a tough spot lately with the summer tourists gone.

“Because we work in such small margins, sometimes you’re gonna see the cost of that plate lunch go up slightly,” Matsuoka said.

HNN called around a dozen plate lunch places to see how they’re raising prices.

The majority said they’ve had to raise prices by about 10 to 15%.

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