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Fast Food Price Increases Climbing Quickly

Customers at Burger King | Image by Sorbis/Shutterstockv
Customers at Burger King | Image by Sorbis/Shutterstock

Fast food prices are rising faster than inflation, according to recent data, with some options tripling in price over the last decade.

FinanceBuzz found that of a dozen fast food restaurants, McDonald’s had increased the most, reported the New York Post. Menu items like the McDouble sandwich have climbed from $1.19 to $3.19. Recent viral reports of an $18 Big Mac meal have only brought more attention to soaring costs, which have been pushed higher by climbing food prices, rising utilities, and increases in labor costs.

California is experiencing a rapid spike in fast food prices after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law mandating a $20 per hour minimum wage for most fast food workers, as reported by Fox 26. Situations like the wildfires and bird flu outbreak in Texas also threaten to cause price increases, though experts have stated these disasters are unlikely to impact consumers, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Prices of menu items at McDonald’s can fluctuate from location to location as nearly 90% of stores are franchise operations.

“As the report itself notes, pricing is set by individual franchisees and varies by restaurant. This is not an accurate representation of historical or current pricing at McDonald’s restaurants, and the 2024 average prices listed are significantly inflated,” the company said in a statement to the NYP.

According to FinanceBuzz, Subway saw among the lowest increases in menu prices over the last 10 years, reported Fox 4 KDFW. The company found that Subway’s prices have risen by just 39%. Starbucks is the only other restaurant surveyed to have had less than a 50% increase in prices.

Many franchise restaurants are making various changes to cut costs, including more reliance on technology and reducing the number of people employed. Reducing portion sizes and strict control over portioning are also likely to increase as owners look to slow the double-edged sword of rising prices and declining customers.

“I was talking to a fast-food chain CEO about a week ago, and he was saying they’re going to take all of their ordering at the drive-thru … [with] professional order takers in India or in the Philippines. It won’t be anybody in the restaurant that takes your order,” former CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder told Fox Business. “They’re doing anything they can to reduce costs so they don’t have to raise prices. But there’s so much pressure, particularly in California.”

Popeyes, Taco Bell, Jimmy John’s, and Chipotle have also seen rapid increases in pricing. Chipotle has become the latest company to be blamed for skimping out on portions after reports of preferential treatment for people who photograph or film their meals led to online backlash, as reported by DX.

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