Saturday, March 01, 2008

Skyrocketing Wheat Prices Hit Home On Arthur Ave.

100-Pound Bag $19.50 One Week, $47-Plus The Next

Kirstin Cole

We've been facing higher grocery prices and gas prices for months now. But some have been quietly dealing with a wheat crisis that is sending prices skyrocketing 150 percent.

CBS 2 HD has learned why you'll be forking over more for some of your favorite foods.

At Addeo's Bakery in the Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx, you'll always find your favorite bread, biscuits and rolls. But customers lately are swallowing higher prices for their daily staples.

"We were spending $19.50 for 100 pounds. It will go up to $47 and change and there is no end in sight," Laurence Addeo said.

At first Addeo let it slide. But eventually the third generation baker had no choice but to pass those higher prices along to his customers. He's even thinking about shutting the shop one extra day a week. Even worse, he's already heard the dreaded "R" word.

"Ration, ration flour," Addeo said. "So if we got 100 bags in a week, we might only get 70."

It's a perfect storm out of the wheat belt. Farmers planted more corn to sell as bio-fuel grain, which fetches higher prices. But there's been a much higher demand for grain from places like China and India. Meanwhile, other countries have stopped exporting wheat completely. Now, the U.S. is left with a shortage of wheat, causing flour prices to explode.

At Borgatti's they're famous for the ravioli on Arthur Avenue but they're having to learn about trickle down economics with the price of eggs, cheese and wheat all rising dramatically.

Mario Borgatti, 90, opened during the Depression and never saw 40 percent price increases until today. So far, the customers roll with the prices.

"I think they're going to go up wherever you are," one customer said.

But Mario knows eventually the business will suffer.

"Right now, we have to lay off people because we won't be doing the business (if we keep raising the prices)," Borgatti said.

"I hope that we can ride this out, and make our customers understand so we can keep selling bread for another generation."

The price of groceries made its highest year to year jump last year since 1990. And experts don't expect to see a reversal in the trend anytime soon.


restyled home said...

Guess I better go buy some bags of flour...


onelittlemustardseed said...

Last grocery day I had sticker shock when I went to buy one of the large bags of has been $6.99 forever, and we bought our last bag at christmas, however, it is $9.49!!! Plus, they are saying that the price will keep going if you see it on sale some!