A Little Slice of New York-Style Inflation

Friday, May 13, 2011

When it comes to New Yorkers, they intimately know the price of three things: rent, subway fare and the price of a slice of pizza.

With inflation steadily rising across the nation and in New York, higher prices for that slice could soon be on the menu. 

WNYC's Slice Index is a back-of-the-napkin check on the average pizza cost. As of May 13, it stands at $2.46, unchanged since last month.

While consumers aren't paying more, pizzeria owners are. Giorgio Giove of Brothers Pizza in Staten Island said prices have increased for almost every ingredient in the past year: olive oil, cheese, flour, pepperoni and chicken.

But Giove plans to keep prices the same for his customers.

"We're struggling a bit because of the prices, but we don't want to hurt everybody else," he said. "We're taking that loss."

It's a problem many companies are facing. In the last year, wholesale prices have jumped 6.8 percent while the prices consumers pay have only gone up 3.2 percent. Business owners like Giove are often eating the higher costs and seeing their profits squeezed. 


Various pizza ingredients are among the items that now cost more.

In the last year, the price of flour products has increased more than 23 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, natural cheese prices have gone up 12 percent. And that cardboard take-out box, it costs more too: the price of paper boxes and containers rose 4 percent.

David Richardson, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, warned that pizza ingredients are only a small part of total cost of the pie. Labor, rent and energy all go into making pizza. Gas prices are now $3.97 a gallon on average, up $1.06 from a year ago.  In New York City, according to the Energy Information Administration, a gallon averages $4.07.

Giove said the last time he had to raise prices – a 25 cent increase for a plain slice – was nearly two years ago. Back then, he was also trying to cope with higher costs to make his pizzas.

Cosmo Tiso, owner of Louie & Ernie's Pizza in the Bronx, also said he won’t increase his prices despite the higher costs.

"Gas prices go up and down, but we can't change every time too," he said.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

(Graphics Stephen Nessen/WNYC)


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Comments [5]


The 99 cents slice pizzeria has diluted the average price of slice. Not only is it inconsistently low, it has kept other pizza places from raising their prices.

May. 16 2011 07:50 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

Going back to the 1960s, the price of a slice and the subway fare have mirrored each other -- better check to see when the MTA plans to raise the fare to $2.50 ($2.75 in Queens?).

May. 15 2011 02:50 PM
Michael d from Jersey city

I'm wondering how the 99 cent slice places fit into the picture. Some of the slices are like glorified cheesy crackers, but I had one the other night that was fantastic!

May. 15 2011 11:42 AM
bob wade from Jersey

Input costs and a falling dollar make 2.50 a pretty good bargain.
I love pizza but it has a lot of cholesterol and as such should be eaten only occasionally.
Better would be to save the dollar from the Federal Reserve's plundering.
When pizza hits 7 bucks a slice, you'll know what I mean.

May. 15 2011 08:59 AM
Wally Balloo from my memory of a simpler time.

When I was a kid in the Bronx (233rd and WP Road), the local pizzeria gave away can openers that had their name, address and the price of a slice - 25 cents printed on them. I guess they expected the price to last as long as the can opener.

May. 13 2011 05:06 PM

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