Spike in celery and avocado prices

How do restaurants cope with food fads?

One Red Deer restaurant knows the impact the fluctuating costs of fruits and vegetables can have on a business.

Andre Lemus, owner of Mexican restaurant Las Palmeras in Red Deer, said the price of avocados has “gone up a lot” over the past few years.

“To keep our prices in line, we don’t put as much (guacamole) on the plate as we normally did,” Lemus told www.reddeeradvocate.com

A few years ago, an avocado would have cost between $1.50 and $1.75, but now they’re paying about $2.36.

“You don’t want to change your menu prices all the time. Your per-cent-to-profit margin is sometimes very good and is sometimes not so good.

“You just have to stay ahead of the market to keep your prices in line or try something different in order to maintain the same prices,” said Lemus.

Lemus said he doesn’t expect the price of avocados to go down any time soon.

Glow Juicery and Raw Food Eatery, a Red Deer juice shop, was recently hit with skyrocketing prices of celery juice.

“For a short period of time – it was about five months where the celery prices were astronomical,” said owner Fenella Gilbert.

From late March to early June, a case of celery juice cost as much as $129. At the start of the year, a case was $80 to $90, and now a case is about $55.

“As a business owner or a restaurant, you sometimes have to decide what’s more important to you: your bottom line or your client,” said Gilbert.

“You can suck a lot of the cost up and cross your fingers that it’s not going to stay for a long period of time.”

The juice shop had to adjust prices slightly to account for the spike in celery cost. “We did end up raising our prices by 50 cents a bottle, but for the most part, we ended up sucking it up,” she said.

“We basically knew by talking to the produce manager that the price would come down, and it wouldn’t be this high for long.

“Maybe our bottom line took a bit of a hit, but it was worth it, because we didn’t see a decrease in clients coming in.”

While the cost of celery isn’t nearly as high was it was a couple of months ago, carrots and beets are more expensive than they were earlier this year, said Gilbert.

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