Frank Ottomanelli, the owner of S. Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meats in New York, said on Monday that he has been forced to raise prices between 5 and 10% because of inflation.
Speaking from his location in Queens, N.Y. during a live interview on "Varney & Co.," Ottomanelli said he tried to do everything he could to keep prices "down as much as possible" as the price for everything, including rent and gas, continue to rise and are hitting 40-year highs.
"We have a legion of customers coming into Ottomanelli for years and years and years. We want to keep the customer base," he said. "We didn’t want to scare them away, so we did everything possible for them to keep coming back again."
The Labor Department said last month the consumer price index (CPI) – which measures a bevy of goods including gasoline, health care, groceries and rents – rose 8.5% in March from a year ago, the fastest pace since December 1981, when inflation hit 8.9%. Prices jumped 1.2% in the one-month period from February, the largest month-to-month jump since 2005.
Price increases were widespread: Energy prices rose a stunning 11% in March from the previous month, and are up 32% from last year. Gasoline, on average, costs 48% more than it did last year after rising 18.3% in March on a monthly basis as the Russian war in Ukraine fueled a rapid increase in oil prices.
Food prices have also climbed 8.8% higher over the year and 1% over the month, with the largest increases in cereal and bakery products (10%), poultry, fish and meat (13.8%), fresh fruits and vegetables (8.1%), and eggs (11.2%).
The inflation data for April will be released next week.
Ottomanelli noted that the price hikes are "not in proportion."
He pointed out that people "are making more money, but we have inflation that’s causing things to go up even further than what they’re making."
Rising inflation is eating away at strong wage gains that American workers have seen in recent months: Real average hourly earnings decreased 0.8% in March from the previous month, as the 1.2% inflation increase eroded the 0.4% total wage gain, according to the Labor Department. On an annual basis, real earnings fell 2.7% in March.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food price outlook, beef and veal prices are now predicted to increase between 6 and 7%; pork prices are predicted to increase between 4 and 5%; and other meat prices are predicted to increase between 3.5 and 4.5% in 2022.
The aggregate categories of meats, poultry, and fish are predicted to increase between 5.5 and 6.5%, and meats are predicted to increase between 4.5 and 6.5% in 2022, according to the USDA.
Poultry prices are now predicted to increase between 7.5 and 8.5%, the department added.
FOX Business’ Megen Henney contributed to this report.