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Local takeaway prices could 'Chip' an all-time high, Dáil committee hears

TD says prices increases for takeaways are likely later this year. Photo: Stock Image

Senan Molony

A spike in takeaway food prices could be on the cards later this year, a Dáil committee has been told in a hearing on inflation.

Department of Finance officials said levels of price rises in basic staples had not yet fed through into many foodstuffs, and this was to be feared “later in the year”.

Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart said takeaway meals – often ordered by people who cannot afford restaurant meals – could soon cost a lot more, having been largely stable in price this year.

“I would be afraid, based on strong anecdotal evidence, that we have yet to see the real spike in prices on many food items, including takeaway meals,” he said.

He told the Committee on Budgetary Oversight that he was friendly with a constituent who ran a couple of Indian takeaway restaurants. The businessman’s supplier had been charging €43-€44 for a tray of fresh chicken last year. But the price charged was now €83-84.

“He hasn’t put up his prices yet. Indian cuisine being hot food, he is holding off for the summer months, when such meals are not ordered as much as in the winter. But he will look at raising prices in September, and I think the rise is going to be fairly substantial,” he said.

Other food retailers were in the same position, he said.

Brendan O’Connor, a principal officer at the Department of Finance, confirmed that its analysts expected to see a “pass-through effect” from basic food inputs into retail prices later in the year.

He pointed out that food price inflation in Ireland was currently lower than the EU average. But wholesale wheat and cooking oil prices were rising worldwide because of the invasion of Ukraine, and it is “going to have an impact on prices, maybe later in the year”.

He added that soya, sunflower oil and other baseline produces – “you name it” – were all increasing, fed in part by increased fertiliser and energy costs. “We wouldn’t expect not to see price rises later,” he added, framing the likely increase in the negative.

Mr Lahart said it was clearly the case that many food retailers at takeaway level were holding off from passing on their increased inputs to the consumer for now.

But he said he feared that near-inevitable rises in such items as takeaway meals could not long be postponed. “I don’t think we have seen the full impact of inflation,” he said.

Meanwhile the committee was briefed by Department of Finance officials that the early evidence was the Government’s steps to cushion the impacts of inflation on the cost of living were indeed largely benefitting lower-income groups, rather than society at large.

They were targeted at such cohorts and the targeting appeared to be working at this stage, they said.

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