Home » Pizzerias fear extinction after ‘diabolical couple of years’

Pizzerias fear extinction after ‘diabolical couple of years’

by WorldFinance
0 comment 2 minutes read
Pasquale Chionchio

Britain’s pizzerias face a battle for survival in the face of the soaring costs of wheat, milk and tomatoes. One restaurant owner said he would have to charge £15 for a margherita to turn a profit but couldn’t because diners would go elsewhere. The price of every key ingredient used by pizza restaurants has increased in double digits this year – but independent restaurateurs say they cannot put prices up for fear of alienating customers.  Pasquale Chionchio, co-founder of the Santa Maria restaurant group, which runs five pizzerias across London, said: “We are struggling like never before.  “Last year the tomato crop was very low – the lowest in 30 years, and there is not much availability. The price has doubled. We were paying about £16 per case, now it is about £28 to £30.  “The cost of milk for mozzarella cheese has risen by about 25pc to 30pc. Most of our flour was coming from Ukraine and now we are paying about 35pc more for it.” Santa Maria has raised its prices slightly to recoup a small portion of the losses, taking the cost of a margherita, the most basic pizza, from £8.90 to £9.50. This is nowhere near enough to make up for the inflation in the cost of ingredients but Mr Chionchio warned: “You can’t pass this all to customers. You can’t price a margherita at £15. That’s not business. You’ll start losing customers.” Pizza is one of Britain’s favourite dishes and the UK market has grown year on year for the past decade. It is currently thought to be worth around £3.5bn.  Some chains are expanding rapidly. Upmarket sourdough pizza brand Franco Manca, for instance, opened 10 new pizzerias in the 12 months to September 2022.  Jim Winship, director of the Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association, said it had been a “diabolical couple of years for the industry”, adding independent restaurants were in a weaker position because they lack the buying power of larger groups. He said: “There will always be demand for the pizza sector in the long term – it’s a question of who can survive over the next three to six months until we come out of this cost of living crisis. “I think we’ll see a number close. It’s difficult to predict how many. It depends how strong their balance sheets are to weather the storm.” As well as the sky-high cost of ingredients, restaurateurs like Mr Chionchio are having to contend with staff shortages and energy price rises.  Mr Chionchio said: “At this point we are asking every day, is it worth it? We’re not making money and it’s not just us – all pizza restaurants are struggling.” Need help? Visit our adblocking instructions

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