Dough! Pizza costs go through the roof

hot lips pizzaAlthough I don't eat too much pizza these days, there was a time in my life when the ambrosial mix of flat crust, tomato sauce, and melted cheese was a staple in my diet. Looking through my mental scrapbook, it seems like almost every major event of my high school, college, and graduate years was accompanied by the smell of tomatoes and oregano and the delicious taste of mozzarella. From hook-ups to break-ups and all points in between, pizza was there to feed me and comfort me.

I wonder if the next generation of college students will have the same experience. After all, one of the major attractions of pizza was its price; for between $5 and $10 (sometimes less if I bought in bulk or had a coupon), I could feed a bunch of my friends. We could gather around the mystical manna, make our plans, and contemplate our vile deeds. Pizza was simultaneously cheap and slightly grown up. We could have the joy of buying food for ourselves but still have enough cash left over to pick up a six pack for later. In short, it was the perfect food.

Over the past couple of weeks, a combination of poor crop yields and increased consumption have sent the price of flour through the roof. While wheat usually goes for $3 to $7 a bushel on the Minneapolis Commodities Exchange, it hit $25 a bushel last week. Over the past two weeks, the cost of a 50-lb bag of flour in New York City rose from $16 to $26. It was $9 in 2006. Cheese prices have also risen, although not as much.

In the short-term, this means a major spike in the price of pizza. In New York, where the cost of a slice has traditionally been tied to the cost of a subway ticket, pizzeria owners are contemplating raising prices to up to $4 a slice. The cost of a subway fare remains consistent at $2.

Grocery prices going up, going up, going up...
See Gallery
Dough! Pizza costs go through the roof
It's not just the products with wheat, but nearly all your groceries that will feel the pressure from rising wheat and soybean prices.
Hops are one of the most amazing fruits in the world; they grow extremely fast and you can turn them into delicious beer! What could be better? Unfortunately, a 300% increase in the price of hops has beer growing more expensive; it's only up 4% as of mid-May 2008, but more increases are expected.
Most commercial cattle is fed (unnaturally, as it turns out) corn. When grains get more expensive, hamburger will trail right along after it.
Most commercial brands of bread are made with soybean oil, making them doubling impacted by the rising prices of wheat and soybeans.
Cereal will respond quickly to increases in prices to wheat, corn and soybeans.
I reviewed Cynthia Hillson's self-published book, 'How to Feed Your Family', and one of the strategies mentioned is to forego spendy breakfast cereals (their prices are going through the roof!) and instead eat homemade oatmeal and pancakes.
Pizza is made of all kinds of ingredients whose price is going up; notably, the food is very reliant on the cost of wheat. How much does YOUR pizza cost?
With the cost of wheat going up, it may make sense to start making pizza from scratch (and it's healthier, too!)
Barilla pasta, long sold at Trader Joe's for 69 cents a bag, has gone up to 79 cents a pound; and if wheat prices keep rising, it will soon be a dollar per pound.
Chickens are fed some combination of soybeans, corn and wheat in most commercial farms. As those get pricier, so will eggs.
Though bulk foods are obviously hit by price increases, too, they're a great way to keep from spending on the things that don't really matter; packaging, for one; marketing, for another.
The first and most obvious hit to grocery costs from rising wheat prices: wheat flour. Buying from local companies like this Bob's Red Mill brand, though, may be the way to go.

Ramen, on the other hand, remains consistent at four packs for a buck (prices may vary, depending on locality).

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He's sworn off pizza in protest against its rising cost (this sounds way cooler than the truth, which is that he needs to drop a few pounds).

Read Full Story