Restaurant menu

Restaurant menu prices continue to climb

The restaurant industry in March continued to experience inflation not seen in decades, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The out-of-home food index rose 6.9% year-over-year, the largest 12-month increase since December 1981. Full-service meals rose 8%, while prices quick service menus increased by 7.2%.

Here’s how inflation has evolved for foodservice outlets over the past few months:


  • Index of food away from home: 4.7%
  • Quick service menu price: 6.9%
  • Full-service menu price: 4.9%


  • Index of food away from home: 4.7%
  • Quick service menu price: 6.7%
  • Full-service menu price: 5.2%


  • Index of food away from home: 5.3%
  • Quick service menu price: 7.1%
  • Full-service menu price: 5.9%


  • Index of food away from home: 5.8%
  • Quick service menu price: 7.9%
  • Full service menu price: 6%


  • Index of food outside the home: 6%
  • Quick service menu price: 8%
  • Full-service menu price: 6.6%


  • Index of food away from home: 6.4%
  • Quick service menu price: 8%
  • Full-service menu price: 7.1%


  • Index of food away from home: 6.8%
  • Quick service menu price: 8%
  • Full-service menu price: 7.5%

Much of the rise in menu prices was influenced by rising commodity prices. According to the most recent producer price index, food prices rose 12.8% year over year, including jumps in beef and veal (43.9%), cereals (22%), shortening and cooking oils (36.4%) and eggs (40.9%). percent).

Restaurants have also continued to raise wages to attract and retain workers, but the job market continues to be tough. Food service establishments added only 61,000 jobs in March.

In addition, in February, 863,000 people left their jobs in the leisure and hospitality industry, which represents about 21% of the private sector. It was the most since November, when 881,000 people left their jobs. There were also 1.7 million job openings in February, more than in October, November and January, but less than the 1.97 million openings in December.

A recent Revenue Management Solutions survey found that 68% of consumers believe restaurant prices are higher or much higher, nearly doubling the percentage in Q1 2021. When asked why they were getting less value of a restaurant visit, 82% credited “higher prices.”

The same survey – which took place from March 4-7 – showed that reported visits to drive-thru and quick-service restaurants were down from 2021.

4 Rivers Smokehouse CEO John Rivers said RSQ in early March that he feared an imminent consumer reaction to menu price inflation. That’s why his fast casual prepares with a value-based “Inflation Menu” to create goodwill with customers.

“Probably one of the most strategically important things a restaurateur needs to do today is allow six months and 12 months to start making plans and changes now,” he adds. “Otherwise, if you run your business from a reactionary perspective like we have for years, you’re going to get caught. Because the landslide is too steep right now.