Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Inflation has hit taco makers particularly hard, forcing hike in prices

High inflation rates have hit the taco. The cost of cooking fuel is largely to blame, but a bump in the cost of essential ingredients has also contributed to a rise in the price of the popular street food.

Inflation hit 7.37% in November, its highest level in more than 20 years. Costs for small restaurants like taquerías were up 0.74% in monthly terms and — given general price trends — they are likely to continue their climb. 

The national statistics agency INEGI reported a 17.8% annual increase in the price of fruit and vegetables in 2021 and said meat prices went up 11.44%.

In monthly terms, green tomatoes rose 71.85% in November and red tomatoes jumped 25.38%; some fresh chiles climbed 30.66%.

While the cost of LP gas receded 1.4% in November, it did so from a very high level: prices skyrocketed in February due to a supply shortage caused by adverse weather in Texas.

Eduardo, the owner of La Esquinita in the north end of Mexico City, complained that almost all of his taquería’s costs had risen. “It’s all gone up: the meat, vegetables, practically everything; disposable [plates and cutlery] rose almost double. The costs are really high right now.” 

The price of tortillas, Eduardo said, had risen by 7 pesos since the start of the pandemic, and their green chile sauce was now five times more expensive to produce. 

La Esquinita subsequently raised the price of a “pastor” pork taco from 12–13 pesos, while the lengua (tongue) and sesos (brains) tacos have gone from 18–20 pesos. Eduardo added that demand had remained steady despite the increases.

In the neighborhood of San Pedro, in the southeast of Mexico City, Doña Leo and her husband Timoteo have had a small taquería for 45 years. They said their production costs had only gone one way: “Everything that is used in a taquería went up a lot … the gas for example, as the stove has to be lit at all times whether there are people here or not … the vegetables have gone up a lot, lime is expensive, cilantro is expensive … everything is expensive. Meat has been going up for about eight days.”

The couple has been forced to raise the price of their tacos from 10–11 pesos. However, they no longer consider their taquería a business, since they are finding it so hard to make money. “Sometimes we are left with [no money], just satisfaction and the tradition of talking to customers …”

With reports from Milenio 

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