Price of oil, labor shortages to blame for grocery store sticker shock: NYC supermarket owner

CEO of NYC supermarket chain Gristedes, John Catsimatidis, weighs in on rising prices

John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner and CEO of New York City supermarket chain Gristedes, who is also in the oil industry, argued on Wednesday that the price of oil and gas as well as labor shortages are to blame for sticker shock at the grocery store. 

"This is a tax on the poor and the middle class," Catsimatidis, who is also the CEO of United Refining, said describing inflation to FOX Business' Madison Alworth.

He made the comments on the same day it was revealed that U.S. consumer prices accelerated at the fastest annual pace in more than 30 years as supply chain bottlenecks and materials shortages persisted and gasoline prices surged.

The national average for gas was $3.42 on Wednesday, $1.31 higher than the same time last year, according to AAA

On Wednesday it was revealed that the consumer price index climbed 6.2% year over year in October, according to the Labor Department. The increase marked the largest annual gain since November 1990. Prices rose 0.9% month over month. 

Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting prices to rise 0.6% in October and 5.8% annually.

The food index increased 0.9% in October, the same increase as the month before, according to the Labor Department, which noted that the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs continued to rise sharply —  increasing 1.7% following a 2.2% increase in September. 


The energy index rose 4.8% in October after rising 1.3% the month before and the gas index rose 6.1% in October, its fifth consecutive monthly increase, the Labor Department said. 

The supply chain crisis and worker shortages are putting pressure on companies that are dealing with higher input costs and offering elevated wages to lure employees. Companies said that as a result they are being forced to pass on the additional costs to consumers by raising prices on products. 

Catsimatidis noted that prices are "increasing across the board and the main fault is the price of gasoline and the price of crude oil and labor shortages." 

Catsimatidis told Alworth during a live interview that aired on FOX Business' "Mornings with Maria" that "prices are going up higher than people are expecting," noting that those prices are increasing by at least 10% and that some items have increased by even more. 

"Right now we have ample supplies and what we’re telling our customers [is] shop early because you never know," he continued. 

"We have everything. Everything’s in stock, but if you shop early then you won’t be disappointed for Thanksgiving."

Thanksgiving dinner could be the most expensive this year, according to recent reports, which noted that almost all the elements needed for the holiday are increasing in price - including turkeys themselves. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its "Turkey Market News Report" late last month, which found that turkeys between eight and 16 pounds are about 26 cents more per pound than they were last year. 

"Smaller turkeys are even higher than people would like to pay, at least 20 to 30% higher," Catsimatidis said, noting that "right now there are shortages." 

"We brought in as many as we can, but shop early. There are shortages," he advised. 

Catsimatidis pointed out that the cost for a 15-pound turkey last year was around $25 to $30 and that this year it could cost up to $40. 

"We’re concerned," he said. 

Last week, Butterball CEO Jay Jandrain said that Thanksgiving turkeys will be harder to find this year and also noted that it’s "reasonable to expect" higher prices amid supply chain issues.  

Jandrain made the comments on FOX Business' "Cavuto: Coast to Coast," noting that "we don’t expect there to be a shortage overall, but we do see there will be fewer small turkeys this year." 


Like Catsimatidis, Jandrain recommended that consumers "go out to the stores and get them as early as you can." 

Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. CEO Tom Hayes said last week that company costs have risen amid a "tough environment" and noted that some of it has been passed on to consumers.

Ocean Spray produces cranberry juice, dried cranberries and Thanksgiving staple cranberry sauce.

"Like everybody else, our costs have gone up," Hayes told "Mornings with Maria" last week.

"There’s not an ingredient or a cost that hasn’t gone the wrong direction this year," he stressed. 


FOX Business’ Jonathan Garber, Ann Schmidt and Madison Alworth contributed to this report.