How higher gas prices are affecting restaurants and grocery stores

Posted at: 10/12/2012 5:26 PM
Updated at: 10/12/2012 6:38 PM
By: Ray Levato

Everyone is feeling the pinch of rising gas prices, but they affect us in other ways too, not just at the pump.

Most goods move on trucks and the price of diesel fuel is now as high as $4.49.

Truck companies say the higher cost of fuel is hitting their bottom line, meaning those costs may be past on to consumers. And not just at the supermarket, but just about everything including pizza.

Tony Proietti is the Tony behind Two Ton Tony's. He competes with half-a-dozen other pizza parlors in the same part of town. Tony showed News10NBC an invoice for mozzarella cheese from today versus two years ago.

Tony Proietti, Two Ton Tony's, said, “When I opened in January of 2010, I paid $1.81 wholesale for a pound of mozzarella. Last week, I paid $2.61 for that same pound of mozzarella.”

Tony says his suppliers have all raised their prices another way by tacking on a delivery charge. But he worries how much of that he can pass along to his customers.

Proietti said, “And in this business, the hardest part is raising your price to meet that increase that we're taking. Customers are knowledgeable. They're savvy when it comes to couponing and pricing. And if you raise your price a quarter, they're going to know it. And you might lose customers over it.”

News10NBC asked Wegmans to explain how it handles higher fuel prices.

Jo Natale, Wegmans Spokeswoman, said, “The most important thing we do is manage our fleet of trucks to optimize their performance because that certainly impacts the cost of fuel to Wegmans. And we pass that along to customers. It's the way we keep prices low by operating our business and that includes our fleet of trucks, as efficiently as possible.>

Two Ton Tony's says the prices for everything from cheese, flour and tomato products, even chicken wings have gone up. And he raises the specter of a $20 large pizza someday.

Proietti said, “We're all sitting back waiting for that first pizza chain that's going to knock their price up to where it should be. And then I think the floodgates open and everybody goes there.”

Tony says take chicken wings. At one point, they were $1.19 a pound wholesale. He says they're going to hit $3 a pound and just imagine what the retail market is going to look like for chicken wings.

An order of 12 might be shorted down to ten wings and Tony says some places are starting to charge for wings by the pound.

Wegmans, by the way, uses two trailers with one tractor on the thruway where it's allowed. Trucks are not allowed to idle for more than five minutes and governors on the engine limit the truck to 55 miles an hour.