Pork price increase affects Chattahoochee Valley restaurants - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Pork price increase affects Chattahoochee Valley restaurants

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COLUMBUS, Ga. - One southern staple is seeing sky rocking prices, pork. It's all because of a deadly outbreak that's wiping out the swine population. But how is it affecting local barbeque restaurants? Some restaurant owners say they will absorb the increase but others are being forced to pork up their prices. Either way, that increase will probably but a dent in their profits hurting the local barbeque restaurant industry.

Smoke. Slow cooked barbeque. Baked beans and cole slaw. All of these are staple smells and tastes around the Chattachoochee Valley where people love to get their barbeque fix. But will you have to pay more for your favorite plate? Some places say no.

"We try to keep our prices constant so the customers know what they're getting when they come in," said Zachary Zito, co-owner of Mike and Ed's in Smiths Station.

Most barbeque restaurants are now stomaching higher pork prices. That's because a deadly swine virus called P-E-D has killed off nearly 6 million hogs. You won't get sick from eating an infected animal but it's been devastating to the pig population creating more demand than supply and causing those prices to jump.

"Our vendors have already let us know that it's coming just as a heads up so we can do whatever we need to do to prepare for it," said Zito.

Zito says the prices fro the shops most popular item, boston butts, will cost them almost 50% more starting next week.

"A lot of the event's that we've already sent out a bid on weeks or months in advance we're now going to have to take a small hit on those prices because we've already bid that out and we can't go up on our prices to our customers so we're going to have to eat that profit," said Zito.

Some restaurants will have to pass along a percentage of that increase to their customers. The owner of Smokey Pig Barbeque says they've been around 61 years and have seen the price of pork go up and down but this year is significant.

"We've seen a pretty substantial increase this year than in the previous years. It's like 50 or 60 cents a pound in one day jump and normally it's like a 5 or 10 cent jump," said Bobby Gunter, co-owner of Smokey Pig Barbeque.

Gunter says prices will jump probably 5 to 7 percent. That means a normal sandwich and drink you cost you about a quarter more. In the meantime experts say there will eventually be a vaccine, but no word on how quickly that will be available.

Naomi Keitt

Naomi Keitt focuses on education reporting for WRBL News 3. More>>

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