How price hikes of raw materials impacted restaurants in Jordan

The outside of Al Mathaq restaurant located in Downtown Amman (Al-Balad). (Photo: Yasmin Abukhadra/Jordan News)
The outside of Al Mathaq restaurant located in Downtown Amman (Al-Balad). (Photo: Yasmin Abukhadra/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Disruption in the supply and price hikes of raw materials has hit restaurants in Jordan as owners are scrambling to make ends meet.

“When prices change, everything changes. Cooking oil used to cost us JD16 per container and now it stands at JD22, chicken used to be JD1 per kilo, and now it is JD2.2,” said a worker at Al Mathaq (the taste) restaurant in Downtown Amman. اضافة اعلان

Local media quoted Raed Hamada, the representative of food and beverage sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, as saying: "The increase in prices raised the overhead costs of restaurants, which further impacts the already struggling sector."

One of Jordan's most popular and affordable meals, falafel, was also affected by the price hikes. 

“If you raise your prices by 5 piasters or 10 piasters, people get stressed out and will voice their frustration,” said Abdullah Taher, the co-owner of Abu Mahjoub restaurant, a local falafel shop located in Jabal Luweibdeh.

“The cost of raw materials went up and the flow of imported ingredients, such as chickpeas and beans went up exponentially over the last few years, especially in the last two months. All of that affects the business in so many different ways," added Taher.
According to restaurant owners, the price of Turkish chickpeas, which earlier sat at JD15 for a 25 kg bag, has now been marked up by JD3 to JD4, noting that the hike followed a cut off in supply.

“I would be lucky to get it for anything around JD18 or 18.25 JDs per bag,” Taher said. 
Restaurant owners now find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

They either compromise the quality of the product to turn a profit, or raise their prices and risk losing their customers. 

“The price of everything goes up. Even for a restaurant such as mine, if I am buying Turkish chickpeas and suddenly the price goes up, I am either stuck with Turkish chickpeas for quality-control purposes to make sure our food taste and quality doesn’t change — I cannot sacrifice that. Or I can opt out for a cheaper option and risk losing the quality and flavor that my customers are used to,” said Taher.

Both Abu Mahjoub and Al Mathaq’s prices have not increased despite the price hikes of raw materials. “We didn’t change our prices for our.

customers,” said a restaurant worker at Al Mathaq,, “Our customers that have been coming for six years, won’t come anymore.”

“How do you explain that to your customers?” questioned Taher, “Customers do not see what is going on behind the scenes.”

Also adding to the woes of restauranteurs, Taher explained, are the arbitrary pricing methods suppliers use.

“We are at the mercy of the suppliers. They do not have fixed prices if they know you they give you a good price. If they see you are a restaurant in a specific neighbourhood, they jack up the price, they do not care if they sell to you or not because they are selling to someone anyway,” Taher explained.

The rise in the cost of raw materials also increases the overhead costs of a restaurant’s operations. The reasoning is twofold: The prices that are set by raw-material suppliers and spikes in global shipping prices.

According to Forbes, over the 12-month period from March 2020, global container rates increased by approximately 195%.

“The cost of shipping world wide went up … I know for a fact that a shipping crate from Egypt used to cost 600 dollars but now it’s up to almost 3000 dollars. That’s a pretty high jump, from what I understand talking to our supplies and the people who installed the kitchen and restaurant equipment told us about how much they are paying to get stainless steel and all the needed necessary equipment.”

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