LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Federal authorities say food prices have jumped at the highest rate in almost 50 years amid the COVID-19 pandemic and virus-related shut downs of food processing facilities are being blamed.
One Las Vegas meal prep small business is refusing to pass the higher food costs onto customers while so many are struggling to make ends meet.
"I'm all self-taught; I never went to culinary school, I'm from New York, so in New York there's a lot of home cooking, it's basically in your blood," said Chef Rob, owner of 702 Prep.
Chef Rob makes all of the meals himself while drawing inspiration from his mother's east coast home cooking.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closures of most nonessential businesses and restaurants, Chef Rob says the demand for his meal prep company has increased.
"My business has grown in sales because a lot of people are scared to leave their house, they're scared to go to Walmart, or Smith's, all of those stores, because they just don't want to a chance of catching the virus," said Rob.
Rob says the jump in food prices since COVID-19 have been tough to swallow.
Proteins, like poultry and ground beef have seen double digit price hikes with Rob's bulk suppliers.
"A case of chicken, a 40 pound box, I pay $60 and it's very high quality," said Rob.
"Right now, it's going for $100, that's a 40% increase," added Rob.
Food experts say the jump is connected to food processing problems as a result of the coronavirus.
Tyson Chicken revealed dozens of workers have contracted COVID-19 at various facilities and it has forced production shutdowns.
Consumer grocery store prices experienced the biggest one month jump in 46 years, according to the US Department of Labor.
"People are staying home, they are not going out anymore, so there's a big increase in regards to grocery stores," said Patrick Penfield, a supply chain management professor at Syracuse University.
Prices for poultry, ground beef and eggs saw the biggest hikes in April.
The cost of eggs, for example, have increased 38% in April, compared to the same time last year, according to government records.
Chef Rob posted on Instagram that he would not be passing the cost on to his customers.
"I'm not going to make my customers suffer, especially at a time like this," said Rob.
"If I have to cut my profits a little bit, I'll do it as long as my customers are happy and they'll be able to eat food," added Rob.
Experts predict food costs will continue to increase through the end of the year.