Chipotle customers are reporting ingredient shortages as the chain says it is facing high beef and shipping costs

  • Customers say Chipotle locations are out of key ingredients like rice and steak.
  • Chipotle says it is facing high beef and freight costs, but there is no system-wide shortage.
  • Taco Bell, Starbucks, and other chains are also dealing with shortages.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some Chipotle locations are running out of key ingredients, according to customers posting online.

While there is no official messaging from Chipotle, customers say that they’ve visited locations that were out of vegetables, guacamole, steak, rice, and even tortillas.

“We aren’t experiencing any supply issues throughout the network, however, occasionally there are spot outages at individual restaurants,” a spokesperson told Insider.

“We are challenged by several industry-wide issues, most notably beef and freight costs, as well as staffing shortages at our suppliers.”

Chipotle locations dealt with shortages earlier in July during a free entree deal. Five Chipotle employees from four states told Insider about running out of ingredients including lettuce, sour cream, cilantro, brown rice, steak, vegetables, corn, and guacamole.

In June, Reuters reported on a New Jersey Chipotle that was out of barbacoa and carnitas during a weekday lunch rush. A nearby location had both ingredients, and Chipotle told Reuters that these were not a reflection of overall supply chain problems.

Read more: How much should you be paid? Browse more than 250,000 salaries from 250 of the country’s largest firms

The entire restaurant industry is facing supply chain issues, causing shortages and impacting customers. Taco Bell is telling customers that it doesn’t have several ingredients, and posts on social media called out shortages of staple ingredients including chicken, beef, and several different types of taco shells. The chain told Insider shortages were due to “national transportation delays,” that are impacting the entire industry.

In June, Starbucks shared an internal memo that the chain was putting 25 items on temporary hold due to supply chain issues. Some stores have displayed signs that say “we are currently experiencing temporary outages of some of our food and beverage items.” These signs were officially distributed from Starbucks corporate to individual stores, a spokesperson previously confirmed to Insider.

Shortages and price hikes are affecting the entire retail sector. Bikes, cars, meat, cheese, and even ketchup are all becoming more expensive, in part thanks to disruptions to the global supply chain from COVID-19, plus a shipping container shortage and port congestion. These factors created what experts called a “perfect storm” in global transportation.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at

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Chipotle soars 13% to an all-time high as digital ordering and return of dine-in customers push revenue to pre-pandemic levels

Chipotle Tesla
Chipotle is giving away a Tesla 3.

Shares in Chipotle soared as much as 12.95% to reach new highs on Wednesday as a bumper second-quarter earnings call showed the fast-casual chain returning to pre-pandemic activity.

Revenue came in at $1.89 billion, up 39% year-over-year and a hair above the analyst consensus of $1.88 billion. Chipotle opened up 56 new locations and closed five, capitalizing on a surge of digital sales, which grew nearly 11%, as well as a recovery in in-person dining. Almost half of all sales were digital.

The company also saw same-store sales, which excludes sales from new stores, jump 31% year-over-year. Same-store sales had tumbled at the start of the pandemic. Likewise, margins rebounded to 24.5%, driven by price increases and falling beef prices during the second quarter.

Chipotle made headlines in June for raising wages to an average of $15, in part to attract talent in a tight labor market. The company also raised menu prices across the board.

“We have had to move pricing in the delivery channel and on our menu,” CEO Brian Niccol told CNBC. “We’re very fortunate to have such a strong value proposition and to have this pricing power.”

Chipotle closed at $1,755.91 on Wednesday, up 11.5% on the day.

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Chipotle warns it could raise prices even further to stave off labor issues and supply chain struggles

Chipotle’s average meal went up by 30 to 40 cents.

  • Chipotle could raise menu prices again, it said Tuesday.
  • It already raised its prices by 4% in June.
  • Rising labor and supply chain costs are putting pressure on retailers and manufacturers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chipotle isn’t ruling out another price hike this year.

In a call with investors Tuesday, the burrito chain’s executives said it may still raise prices to offset ongoing and rising labor, ingredient, and supply chain costs.

“There’s still that possibility that we could take additional pricing action to fully close the gap,” CEO Brian Niccol said. “I just think there’s so much going on right now with inflation and the question about whether inflation is transitory or permanent. We’ve got labor inflation. We took a big move there. We’ll see how that shakes out. And now we’ve got the Delta variant as well. There’s just a lot of unknowns.”

As for timing, CFO John Hartung said it would take months to get the full picture of inflation currently affecting the US economy.

“Let’s see what happens to inflation, and let’s see what happens to the economy over the next several months, and we’ll make the appropriate decisions at the appropriate time,” he said.

Chipotle raised its menu prices by 4% in June, shortly after putting its minimum hourly wage up to $15. This means that the average Chipotle meal now costs 30 to 40 cents more.

So far, consumers are responding well to these hikes, Hartung said. The chain is “seeing no resistance whatsoever” to price changes, he said.

This is reflected in the sales numbers. Same-store sales at the burrito chain were up 31% in the most recent quarter versus the quarter before as dining-in sales picked up as customers gradually return to normal life.

With ongoing uncertainly around labor and supply chain woes dragging on, many retail chains and manufacturers are having to raise prices to offset these expenses.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ June Consumer Price Index showed that prices surged 0.9% from May. The highest month-over-month change since April 2008.

Chipotle has also not been immune to labor pressure facing restaurants and other services industries. In May, the chain raised its average wage to $15 an hour and announced plans to hire 20,000 workers.

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Fast food has gotten way more expensive in the last year

  • Fast food prices are rising across the industry.
  • Dunkin’, McDonald’s, and Taco Bell have seen the biggest increases, according to analysts.
  • Shipping issues, labor shortages, and weather events all contribute to rising prices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Prices at fast-food chains will continue to rise as ingredients and labor grow more expensive.

Chipotle raised prices across the menu by about 4% in June, a move the company says was prompted by increased wages for workers.

The average Chipotle meal will cost 30 to 40 cents more than it did before, and a spokesperson told Insider that the price hike will compensate for the recent wage increases for workers. In April, the fast-casual chain said it would raise average hourly wages to $15 per hour by the end of June, an increase of $2 over the $13 an hour average pay.

Nearly every fast food and fast-casual chain will likely follow, according to analysts at Gordon Haskett in a report released Thursday.

Read more: Kraft Heinz employees and analysts say 3G Capital’s cost-cutting business strategy is setting it up for failure. Here’s how the private equity firm’s playbook left it playing catchup to its rivals.

Analysts looked at 24 restaurant chains over the span of a year and found 17 of them are currently running price increases, and price increases, on the whole, are growing in both size and frequency. Quick service restaurants have seen the largest increases, averaging 6% compared to 3% at fast-casual and 1% in casual chains. Most of these increases have been implemented since March 2021.

Based on Gordon Haskett analysis, the greatest price increases have been 10% at Taco Bell, 8% at McDonald’s, and 8% at Dunkin’, follow by Chipotle and The Cheesecake Factory. Exact prices vary by market. Applebee’s, Papa John’s, Red Robin, and a few others have not adopted any price increases over the past year.

Labor costs are partially the cause of these rising prices. A truck driver shortage is making transportation more expensive, while restaurants, grocery stores, and factories are all struggling to keep fully staffed. Processing plants and farms are facing the same problems, for example, chicken farms don’t have enough employees, so they’re struggling to process birds quickly.

Labor costs might have increased for restaurants over the last year, but so did the price of ingredients. US consumer prices hit their highest level in 13 years in May, increasing 5% over the previous year. Staple Chipotle items, like corn and avocados, grew more expensive this year as demand rose and shipping delays drove prices further up. Experts say rising food costs are a combination of growing demand as consumers increase spending and supply chain struggles. Shipping delays and severe weather events have made crucial commodities more expensive and difficult to obtain.

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Chipotle has started accepting TikTok video resumes to encourage Gen-Z to apply for jobs at the burrito chain

People crowd in front of a fast-food counter with a lighted Chipotle sign
Order up, King of Prussia Mall.

  • Chipotle is among several big brands to have begun accepting TikTok videos as resumes.
  • On Wednesday, TikTok launched a video resume service to compete with LinkedIn.
  • It’s “essential” to “directly engage with Gen-Z,” a Chipotle exec said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chipotle has started accepting TikTok videos as resumes for job applications, continuing a cultural shift in US retail towards meeting applicants on their own terms.

“Given the current hiring climate … it’s essential to find new platforms to directly engage in meaningful career conversations with Gen-Z,” Marissa Andrada, Chipotle’s chief diversity, inclusion, and people officer, said in a statement Thursday.

The move comes as US retailers struggle to find staff amid the nationwide labor shortage. Jobless claims took an unexpected leap upward last week and unemployment in June was more than 2 percentage points above pre-pandemic averages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

One in every three hospitality workers weren’t expected to return to their pre-COVID jobs. Employees were telling their employers to “shove it” at a record pace. And an estimated 95% of workers were thinking about quitting.

TikTok on Wednesday began rolling out its resume site, LinkedIn has long allowed users to post video resumes.

“Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through,” TikTok said in its “do’s and don’ts” for the new site.

A slate of retailers on Saturday morning had job openings posted on the new TikTok site. Among them were Target, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Forever 21.

Chipotle built one of the most successful brand pages on TikTok, with more than 1.6 million followers. It’s been busy posting guacamole making, Chipotle-bag dressmaking, and customers using extra-long forks.

“TikTok has been ingrained into Chipotle’s DNA for some time and now we’re evolving our presence to help bring in top talent to our restaurants,” Andrada said.

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UBS says Chipotle, Dunkin’, and Sonic have the lowest employee satisfaction, creating a massive problem for companies as they struggle to hire

Popeyes sign now hiring
The labor shortage is hitting fast food restaurants.

  • Dunkin’, Sonic, and Chipotle have some of the lowest worker satisfaction, UBS says.
  • Restaurant workers are more satisfied overall than they were before COVID-19.
  • Workers are leaving the industry at a record rate.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Restaurant workers are quitting at record levels, but employees at some chains are more unhappy than others.

UBS analysts used Glassdoor employee reviews and an analysis of wages and benefits to determine which restaurants had the most dissatisfied workers, and would therefore likely have the most trouble finding workers given the national labor shortage.

UBS looked at chains in five categories: traditional quick service, pizza, coffee, fast-casual, and casual dining. Starbucks, LongHorn, and Texas Roadhouse had the highest employee satisfaction levels across all categories, while Dunkin’, Sonic, and Chipotle were on the lower end.

Read more: Newly revealed CloudKitchen documents show how Travis Kalanick’s company is pivoting as new rivals enter the crowded ghost kitchen space

Full-service workers had higher average satisfaction scores than fast-food workers. The analysts tracked scores from 2019 to 2021 to see changes over time. Jack in the Box and Taco Bell had the greatest improvement in employee satisfaction, while Chipotle and Popeyes declined. UBS also noted that Chipotle has one of the highest wages of its competitors, and recently raised pay.

Surprisingly, overall restaurant workers’ satisfaction is higher than it was before the pandemic, UBS found. Despite workers saying they are happier, they’re quitting more than ever. The quit rate, which refers to the percentage of people who voluntarily leave their jobs over the period, reached 5.6% in April for the foodservice and accommodations sector. That number is an all-time high for the industry, according to Gordon Haskett Research Advisors, and it was more than twice the rate of the economy as a whole, not counting farming jobs.

The high quit rate is an “indication that restaurant sector employees are leaving their jobs to pursue higher wage rate opportunities – in both other sectors and other restaurant concepts,” Gordon Haskett’s analysts said in a report.

In other words, restaurant jobs didn’t necessarily get worse, but other opportunities available to workers got better. Some workers are taking these conditions as an opportunity to leave retail and restaurant jobs to get away from low pay and difficult customers, and a growing number of openings in the labor market is making it easier to transition to new careers. Some workers who were furloughed or laid off early in the pandemic may never return to fast food and customer service work.

One Starbucks worker in Atlanta told Insider that she left for a job with better pay and benefits. The final straw for leaving her job of two years, she said, was realizing how her pay compared to the increasingly pricey drinks Starbucks sells.

“It took me a literal day to find a better job,” she said.

Meanwhile, restaurants are struggling to keep jobs filled. Restaurants and stores are looking to staff up and return to normal as COVID-19 restrictions lift and the country slowly reopens. As some businesses report a lack of candidates for open positions, many are offering perks, bonuses, and benefits to new employees just to get them in for interviews.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at

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A Subway ran out of roast beef, a Chipotle ran out of carnitas, and a Wendy’s was low on lettuce, as fast-food chains grapple with supply shortages for key ingredients

Subway roast beef sandwich
A beef sandwich from Subway fast food outlet.

  • Wendy’s, Subway, and Chipotle are among the fast-food chains hit by supply-chain issues.
  • Reuters reported that all three chains, along with Subway, ran out of key ingredients at some locations.
  • A Chipotle ran out of barbacoa and carnitas, while a Subway ran out of roast beef, per the report.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Restaurants and retailers around the US are grappling with a supply-chain crisis for some of their key ingredients.

A recent Reuters report found that at least nine restaurants and fast-food chains, including Subway and Chipotle, were out of stock in some items at certain locations.

A Wendy’s franchisee in the south told Reuters that it had received only half of the lettuce it had ordered. A Subway location in New York was out of roast beef, rotisserie chicken, ketchup, and spicy mustard, it told Reuters.

One Chipotle store in New Jersey had no barbacoa or carnitas during a busy lunchtime slot on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, a Starbucks in upstate New York told Reuters that it had been short on various items for several months, including green iced tea and cinnamon dolce syrup. Earlier this month, Insider’s Mary Meisenzahl reported on a leaked Starbucks memo that said the coffee chain would stop ordering at least 25 items because of supply-chain issues. A spokesperson for the company told Reuters that these shortages were temporary, and varied by store.

A breakdown in the freight supply chain along with trucker shortages and the labor crisis have combined to create problems for retailers and restaurants. Some have had to raise prices as a result.

Earlier this month, burrito chain Chipotle said it was putting prices up across its menu by 4% to offset wage hikes and the rising cost of ingredients, such as avocados and corn, that were hit by shipping delays.

Red Robin and Cracker Barrel have also increased prices by about 3%, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Experts say the supply chain crisis will last well into 2022 and it likely won’t stop until we have widespread vaccination, new shipping containers, and a drop-off in demand.

If you’re a retailer or restaurant dealing with supply issues please contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (646) 768-4716 using a non-work phone, by email to, or Twitter DM at @MarySHanbury.

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Chipotle is revamping its rewards program with more options for using points and a Tesla Model 3 Giveaway

Chipotle Tesla
Chipotle is giving away a Tesla 3.

  • Chipotle is adding new redemption options for rewards program members.
  • The chain is also giving away a Tesla to the winner of an inn-app game.
  • Rewards programs are becoming more important than ever for fast food chains.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chipotle just introduced the biggest update to its rewards program since it launched in 2019. The chain will also give away a Tesla 3 to the winner of a new racing game.

The new rewards system will give customers more options for redeeming the point that they’ve earned. Every dollar spent by rewards members equals ten points, which can be put towards over 15 different rewards options. A side of guacamole goes for 400 points, or $40 spent at Chipotle.

Members can also redeem points for Chipotle merchandise, which includes shirts, keychains, and flip flops. Or, members can choose to use their points towards a donation to The Farmlink Project, the National Urban League, or National Young Farmers Coalition. Every 485 points equal $1 to one of the organizations.

While revamping the rewards system, Chipotle also introduced a game, Chipotle Race to Rewards Exchange. Members play the game to compete against each other for the chance to win a 2021 Tesla Model 3.

Read more: How Taco Bell, Burger King, and Chipotle are pushing diners away from DoorDash and Uber Eats and reclaiming customer data

To play, members must sign in or create a rewards account. Then, choose from an electric car, electric bike, or electric skateboard. Players can earn 10 points per second racing while avoiding obstacles, which reset points back to 0. The game will only last for 48 hours, going live at 9 am PT on June 23 through 9 am on June 25.

Rewards programs have become nearly essential for fast food chains to attract and keep customers, with Chipotle being one of the leaders. Chipotle’s in-app rewards program has been a huge success, reaching nearly 23 million members as of publication.

Popeyes just launched a program that offers some freebies just for signing up. Starbucks has a popular app with customers so loyal that they sparked a backlash when the chain changed how rewards were calculated.

McDonald’s is also rolling out a loyalty program this year that will entice customers with free sandwiches.

Rewards programs seem to be more important than ever as they incentivize return visits and give companies valuable customer data. “Retention is much more cost-effective than acquisition,” Shyam Rao, co-founder and CEO of customer loyalty platform Punchh, told Insider.

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Chipotle gave huge payouts to its CEO and shareholders, then blamed workers for price increases – here’s what’s really going on

Chipotle workers
  • Paul Constant is a writer at Civic Ventures and cohost of the “Pitchfork Economics” podcast with Nick Hanauer and David Goldstein.
  • In the latest episode, they spoke about Chipotle’s announcement to increase menu prices by about 4% to cover increased employee wages.
  • Constant points out, however, the price increase could be to cover the $24 million raise recently given to CEO Brian Niccol.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last week, the “New York Times” ran a story about a small menu price increase at a fast-casual food chain. Written by Julie Creswell, the piece began, “Executives at Chipotle said on Tuesday that the fast-food chain had raised menu prices by about 4% to cover the cost of the increased employee wages.”

Headlined “Chipotle will increase its menu prices as labor costs rise,” this story is confusing for a few reasons.

Price increases and wages

Firstly, the New York Times is not traditionally in the business of reporting on price increases in restaurants. And a 4% increase doesn’t seem newsworthy at all – Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol admits in the last paragraph of the piece that the increase amounts to “quarters and dimes that we’re layering in” to existing prices.

So the only reason this story could possibly be considered worthy of the Times’s world-famous “All the News That’s Fit to Print” slogan is Chipotle’s claim that the price increases were directly caused by increased worker pay. The chain recently raised its starting wages to an average of $15 per hour – but only in a fraction of its restaurants. Creswell writes that the “pay increases apply only to [Chipotle’s] 650 company-owned restaurants; the vast majority of its nearly 14,000 restaurants in the United States are independently owned.”

So with all that information in mind, the hook of this New York Times story seems to be that Chipotle’s executives are blaming a tiny menu price-bump on a starting-wage increase that’s been enacted in roughly one out of 20 of its restaurants.

What’s disappointing is that Creswell seems to be repeating Niccol’s claims without doing any investigation into Chipotle’s finances. Chipotle never supports its claims that the price increase is due to wage increases, and Creswell never mentioned that Chipotle paid Niccol $38 million last year – an all-time high.

Joanna Fantozzi at Nation’s Restaurant News reports that Niccol’s 2020 salary was “set to be just $14.8 million but financial targets were waived in light of the company’s stellar performance during the pandemic.” So Chipotle’s executives gave its CEO a $24 million dollar raise, which means that Niccol earned “2,898 times more than the median Chipotle worker’s salary of $13,127.”

Why didn’t Chipotle’s board mention Niccol’s $24 million raise as a possible reason for its menu price increases? Creswell doesn’t say. She also doesn’t note that as of the first quarter of 2021, Chipotle was sitting on $1.2 billion in cash and equivalents.

The Times story also doesn’t mention that the company is now in the middle of a huge stock buyback campaign. Sakshi Agarwalla writes at Seeking Alpha that “In an effort to enhance shareholders’ value, [Chipotle] restarted its stock repurchase plans and have announced additional $100 million for stock buyback, bringing to a total $153.8 million repurchase plan. At the end of the first quarter, [Chipotle] repurchased 61.2 million shares worth $87.2 million.”

Stock buybacks and wealth transfer

You can learn more about stock buybacks in this week’s episode of “Pitchfork Economics” with special guest Senator Cory Booker, but the shorthand is this: Stock buybacks, which were illegal before 1982, have proven to be one of the most efficient mechanisms of wealth transferral from workers to the wealthy over the last 40 years. The richest 10%of American households own 84% of the stock in this country, and the top 1% holds about 38%. So Chipotle takes profits that could go to keeping menu prices low and employee wages high and instead hands them off to wealthy shareholders, no strings attached.

Despite the fact that Chipotle has dedicated nearly $200 million to executive and shareholder payouts in the last few months, the New York Times credulously reprinted the company’s claims that an average $15/hour starting wage in 650 restaurants is the reason why the company is increasing menu prices by 4%. To be clear, I’m only singling the Times out as an example here because they’re the gold standard of journalism – the truth is that a number of outlets repeated Chipotle’s claims without investigating the numbers.

The complete failure of many legitimate news sources to interrogate these claims should be a learning moment for business journalists. If you’re simply repeating the information given to you in a press release from a corporation’s PR department, you’re not in the news business – you’re volunteering for the company’s marketing campaign.

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Your next meal is getting more expensive. Here’s what’s driving the surge in food prices.

grocery store checkout conveyer belt supermarket cashier grocery shopping
  • Foods is getting more expensive at grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Some companies are raising prices, while others are selling smaller quantities for the same price.
  • Supply-chain shortages and poor weather are helping drive higher commodity costs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Food prices are surging in grocery stores as well as on restaurant menus.

Last week, Chipotle hiked prices for menu items by about 4%, as the cost of labor and ingredients continues to rise amidst a spike in demand. Red Robin and Cracker Barrel have also increased prices by about 3%, The Wall Street Journal reported. The chains may be forced to further hike prices if commodity costs continue to inflate.

In May, US consumer prices hit their highest level in 13 years, jumping 5% from the previous year, as the cost of meat products and baked goods led the surge in food prices, according to the US Department of Labor.

“We’re in a period of unprecedented commodity inflation,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope told investors on Monday.

As a result of increased product costs, some companies including Unilever have begun selling products at the same cost, but in smaller quantities.

Even companies that cater to more frugal budgets have been forced to hike prices. Dollar Tree CEO Michael Witynski said in May that the company has struggled to keep prices low.

Why are food prices surging?

Food prices are rising in tandem with a broader inflation trend in the US. While vehicle and fuel costs have led the surge in consumer prices, food prices have also risen as increased demand meets supply-chain snags. Key commodities have become increasingly difficult to obtain due to shipping delays, the national labor shortage, and severe droughts in key countries.

A global shipping-container shortage – which has about 5.5% of all freighters waiting weeks outside of ports to unload, including several key ports in southern California – has made it difficult to transport goods. The delays have put transportation costs at a premium, as companies compete for limited space on container ships and delivery trucks. Overseas transportation costs between Asia and the US have surged about 250% higher from this time last year, according to online freight marketplace Freightos.

Home Depot has even begun chartering its own container ships in an attempt to side-step rising coats and bring its products into the US faster.

shipping containers
A container cargo ship in Rotterdam Harbour on April 4, 2021 in the Netherlands. Rotterdam is the largest shipping port outside of Asia.

The US labor shortage is also hampering production and transportation, from a truck-driver shortage to restaurants and grocery stores scrambling to find workers. Many companies, including Chipotle and McDonalds, have hiked worker pay, while other companies have provided additional incentives to lure employees back to work. One Jersey Mike’s in California is offering up to $10,000 in hiring bonuses.

Major droughts in countries like Brazil and Argentina are also driving up prices for corn, coffee, and soybeans. Last month, Reuters reported Brazil was facing its worst drought in 91 years. A “megadrought” in California – the state responsible for over 25% of the nation’s food supply – is also expected to have some impact on food prices in the coming months.

Meat prices surged last week due to a ransomware attack on JBS, a supplier that processes about 20-25% of the nation’s beef, chicken, and pork products.

Consumer prices are at a 13-year-high, but they’re showing no signs of flagging. Executives from General Mills and Campbell Soup Company have warned they may be forced to raise prices further if supply-chain issues continue.

A Campbell spokesperson told Insider the entire food industry was experiencing inflation. “Campbell has a variety of tools to offset the inflationary environment, including pricing actions across most of our portfolio to reflect the broad-based increases in input costs.”

As companies continue to hike prices, experts say prices will only even out when the shipping crisis abates, but no one knows how long the upheaval will last.

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