Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices
Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs, Even as Consumers Pinch Pennies.
By JULIE JARGON And ILAN BRAT
An inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America’s supermarkets and restaurants, threatening to end the tamest year of food pricing in nearly two decades.
Prices of staples including milk, beef, coffee, cocoa and sugar have risen sharply in recent months. And food makers and retailers including McDonald’s Corp., Kellogg Co. and Kroger Co. have begun to signal that they’ll try to make consumers shoulder more of the higher costs for ingredients.
For food executives, how quickly to pass along higher costs presents difficult choices. Missteps could be costly when the economy remains weak. Many Americans, nervous about high unemployment, have pledged allegiance to their pennies and are willing to trade down on brands, switch supermarkets, opt for Burger King over Applebee’s, or stop dining out altogether to save money.