Menu prices

Menu prices rose 4.7% during the last 12 months

Menu prices continued to rise at a healthy pace in September, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average menu prices increased 4.7% between September 2020 and September 2021, which matched August as the strongest 12-month gain since 2009.

Grocery store prices also trended sharply higher in recent months. The Consumer Price Index for Food at Home jumped 4.5% between September 2020 and September 2021, which marked the largest 12-month increase in more than a year.

The recent uptick in menu prices was due largely to higher input costs – particularly food and labor. In a September 2021 survey fielded by the Association, 91% of operators said their total food costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Similarly, 84% of operators said their total labor costs (as a percent of sales) are higher than they were before the pandemic.

Prices for limited-service meals and snacks increased 6.7% between September 2020 and September 2021, while fullservice restaurant menu prices were up 5.2%. The 5.2% increase in fullservice prices represented the strongest 12-month gain since the segment-specific menu-price data series began in 1998.

Fullservice and Limited-service Menu Prices

On a regional level, the Northeast (5.4%) and Midwest (5.3%) regions experienced the strongest menu-price gains between September 2020 and September 2021. Average menu prices in the West and South regions rose at rates of 4.3% and 4.2%, respectively.

Track more economic indicators and read more analysis and commentary from the Association's chief economist Bruce Grindy.