British pizzeria operators have warned that they are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel amid the current costs crisis as the price of key ingredients soars.
With the cost of milk, tomatoes, wheat and other ingredients used for cooking pizzas rising rapidly last year, and average food price inflation reaching record levels above 20% last November, operators are becoming increasingly concerned about having to increase prices for their customers.
Pasquale Chionchio, co-founder of London-based Santa Maria restaurant group, which operates five pizza venues in the capital, told The Telegraph that the chain is “struggling like never before”.
He added: “Last year  the tomato crop was very low – the lowest in 30 years, and there is not much availability. The price has doubled. We were paying about £16 per case, now it is about £28 to £30.
“The cost of milk for mozzarella cheese has risen by about 25% to 30%. Most of our flour was coming from Ukraine and now we are paying about 35% more for it.”
Mr Chionchio said he would have to charge customers £15 for a margherita pizza to make a profit on the menu item but that they would likely choose to dine elsewhere as a result.
He added: “At this point we are asking every day, is it worth it? We’re not making money and it’s not just us – all pizza restaurants are struggling.”
Pizza, Pasta and Italian Food Association director, Jim Winship, labelled the past couple of years as “diabolical” for the sector, warning that he feared some pizzerias would likely have to close their doors this year as operators face rising costs, staff shortages and other challenges following the Covid-19 pandemic.