After the announcement in yesterday yesterday that the price of a Schwartz's smoked meat sandwich would rise by $1 to $7.65 we reached out to longtime employee and general manager Frank Silva for comment.
Frank, is this an April Fools' prank?
I wish it was! No, not at all. Look, I went back to look at my bills since November and the reality is that the price of beef has gone up 50% in the last several months. And in fact, the price will rise even more in two weeks. My supplier reserves briskets in bulk from out west, three or four weeks in advance and we can see that down the road our costs will go up some $2 a pound. I still have a lot of inventory but we have to be make adjustments because of the marketplace.
Do you know the cause of the price hikes on beef?
Some of my owners have Bâton Rouge steakhouse restaurants and their suppliers tell them that it goes back to the drought of 2012. Feed became so expensive that a lot of farmers had to sell their cattle. Then there was a shortage of beef the next year. The currency exchange is less favourable now too and the price of fuel has gone up.
Perfect storm conditions if you sell a lot of beef brisket sandwiches, in other words.
Exactly! Look, you can go to the grocery store and see it. I have three teenagers at home so I know for a fact how much more I pay for meat now versus a year ago. It affects everyone. A lot of Schwartz's so-called competition weighs their meat - that's something we've never done and will never do - and I know they're skimping on their sandwiches now. Bigger bread, less meat. And they'll probably get away with it too! Everyone in Montreal has always sold smoked meat sandwiches for more than we have. But we have the best product. And when you have the best product you're supposed to sell it for the most, right? Well we always sold our sandwiches for less because of volume. We passed the savings on to our customers. And we have customers from all walks of life; from the poorest of the poor that beg outside the restaurant and come in for a sandwich to some of the richest people in Canada. This decision will affect some of them, for sure, but hey, it's practically half a pound of meat we're talking about here.