MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Food prices are on the rise, and according to the USDA's most recent report, there's no relief in sight into the New Year.
Food industry analysts say it's the result of one of the worst droughts in history in the Midwest. The drought has had devastating effects to crops, and the effects have trickled down into grocery stores.
According to the USDA, dairy products, beef and poultry will have the most dramatic price hikes. Estimates show a three to four percent increase.
Local consumers are already feeling the pinch at the register. "Our grocery bills are just crazy now. Especially with like meats and stuff you really like. It's getting really expensive," said Myrtle Beach resident Rudy Porter.
Willie Anderson, also a Grand Strand resident, says he's been forced to adjust how he buys his food. "What we do is we wait and watch the ads for stores that have the specials on chicken wings."
The restaurant industry is taking a hard hit too when it comes to higher food costs. Recent reports show some of the big chain restaurants have jacked up prices to make up for the higher costs of doing business.
But when it comes to the local mom and pop eateries, seems like their finding other ways to stay afloat.
"We're just eating the increases. It's becoming more and more difficult to pass on the increases to our customers," says Pete Manos, owner of Michael's Pizza in Myrtle Beach.
"Cheese costs are just through the roof. There's really not much you can do about it," Manos adds.
It seems like Manos is not alone in his struggle. Local restaurant owners want to keep customers coming and are trying to avoid jacking up menu prices.
"For fear of losing business, because people have less money to spend," explains Manos.
Diana Sarber owns Nacho Mamma in downtown Myrtle Beach. Sarber says making her customers pay more is a last resort. Instead she got creative with her menu to include more affordable food options.
"We did our menu totally different. We analyzed how things are going and then we had to re do our menu," says Sarber.
According to a top restaurant industry website, Restaurant News, some restaurants are serving smaller portions to compensate. Manos says that is the sort of move that could push customers away.
Even though restaurants will face higher food prices into the next year, Manos says they will have no choice but to bite the bullet for as long as they can.