Classic fried cheese seeing greater price surge than any other Czech menu item

Beating out burgers in terms of pandemic price-hike percentage, the beloved 'smažák' is becoming costlier due to increased dairy prices.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 23.08.2021 14:28 (updated on 23.08.2021)

While restaurant interiors have been reopened since the end of May, business is still much lower than before the pandemic and at the same time the cost of ingredients has gone up. This has caused the classic Czech lunch of fried cheese and a side dish to rise 14 percent in the past two years to hit an average of CZK 135. It had been CZK 118 in 2019, before the pandemic.

Other foods and drinks have also gone up according to an analysis by restaurant hardware and technology retailer Storyous, but not as much as the beloved warm and gooey cheese, called smažený sýr or simply smažák in Czech.

Smažák has long been the go-to for people on a budget as well as vegetarians, as it is one of the few standard Czech dishes not to include meat. Typically, the dish consists of deep-fried breaded Edam-style cheese served with tartar sauce and a side order of fries or boiled potatoes.

Burgers are CZK 10 more expensive than in 2019 but unchanged since 2020, while the average price of fries has risen by CZK 3 since 2019. People will pay CZK 4 more for a cappuccino and CZK 2 more for a beer than they did before the pandemic. The prices are an average for the Czech Republic. Prices in Prague tend to be higher.

How often do you eat fried cheese?

Once a week or more. 4 %
Between once a week and once a month. 14 %
A few times a year. 56 %
Never. 26 %
121 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

Storyous attributed the rise in prices to the effects of anti-epidemic measures. Eateries that had been forced to limit sales to delivery for many months in both 2020 and 2021, and then now need to make up for lost time.

"Restaurants have incurred large financial losses. Operators are struggling to secure their existence and restore profits, and with that comes price hikes," Jan Kosek, chief commercial officer of Storyous, told the Czech news Agency (ČTK)

The price of food and delivery services are also increasing, which also has an impact on the price increases, he said.

According to the Czech Statistical Office’s producer price index, dairy products in July 2021 were 3.7 percent more expensive than the same time in the previous year, while the general category of food products, beverages, and tobacco was only up 1.2 percent during the same time. Potatoes were actually down 10.2 percent.

Customers have not yet returned to dining establishments to the extent they did last year, according to Storyous. While restaurants are registering a higher number of payments received per day compared to 2019, they are down 2 percent compared to the same period last year.

"There are fewer payments received this year than last year, but their value has increased. July data shows a 9.6 per cent increase compared to the same period last year, and a full 18 percent increase compared to 2019 data," Kosek further said.

Storyous’ data also shows that one-fifth fewer businesses opened after the loosening of restrictions this year than were operating before the 2019 pandemic.

Item2019 price 2020 price 2021 priceIncrease 2019–21
Fried cheeseCZK 118CZK 128 CZK 135 14 percent
French friesCZK 40 CZK 42 CZK 43 7.5 percent
BurgerCZK 174 CZK 184 CZK 184 6 percent
BeerCZK 40 CZK 41CZK 425 percent
EspressoCZK 41 CZK 43CZK 44 7 percent
CappuccinoCZK 53 CZK 55 CZK 577.5 percent

Source: Storyous/ČTK



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