Taco Truck Economics: What Happens When The Cost Of Onions Rises?

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Elizabeth Garcia runs a small breakfast and lunch stand in Los Angeles called La Patrona.

Garcia prepares tacos, quesadillas, burritos and guisados ​​in a colorful trailer attached to a silver van.

“It’s a company that I love,” Garcia said in Spanish, as he stood on an industrial street surrounded by warehouses. “The recipes are my family’s recipes from central Mexico.”

Garcia said she makes between $350 and $500 a day. But these days she is earning less money than just six months ago because the cost of food is rising.

A good example, she says, is the price of onions. She buys 50 pound bags at a time.

“Months ago I was getting a bag of onions for $14 to $16, depending on the quality,” Garcia said. “Right now it’s $24 to $27.”

To fully offset this price hike, Garcia said, she would have to increase her taco prices by 50 cents. She tried that for a while — charging $2.50 — but it didn’t sit well with her customers.

“They’ve reduced their orders or some have stopped coming altogether,” Garcia said, adding that she’s stuck with $2.25 so far. “I couldn’t raise [my prices] more because a lot of my clients are making minimum wage and they can’t afford it.

Garcia’s experience with rising food prices mirrors what many other food vendors in Los Angeles are going through, said Karina Guzman, who works with community development organization Inclusive Action for the City, which supports vendors. of Los Angeles with micro-loans.

“Our customers are stuck in this tension that they feel…like, ‘Can I raise my prices? I’m afraid of losing customers. And a lot of them are absorbing the cost…absorbing it themselves,” Guzman said.

For Garcia, this strategy is working for now. But she does not know how long she will be able to continue like this and whether food prices will continue to rise.

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