A well-known Australian restaurant owner has unleashed a tirade about what he says is really behind the soaring cost of meat and vegetables.
During the passionate rant, Rami Ykmour, who founded Rashays — a restaurant chain with 32 locations across NSW, Victoria and Queensland — accused the government of lying about the true source of inflation in the industry.
Heavy flooding in Queensland and NSW, which have been widely blamed for the rising prices and supply chain issues, are not behind the cost rises he says.
“I’m going to go on a bit of a rant here because I am disgusted — I am really disappointed with what’s going on out there guys,” Mr Ykmour, who can be seen standing in front of piles of packaged lettuce and meat, begins the TikTok clip.
“We are buying a box of lettuce for $140,” he said, adding that a single head of the leafy vegetable is costing him $7 to $8.
“Just to get lettuce out to our restaurant is costing us so much money. There’s no way customers will come back if we pass on that cost.”
Mr Ykmour, who made headlines last year following his arrest during an alleged Covid restrictions breach at his head offices, said his meat costs have also “gone through the roof”.
“And you know what they tell us, let’s blame the floods. You know what I call that — BS,” he continued.
“The real problem is with short labour. The real problem is no one’s out there to pick cos lettuce. There’s no one out there to pick iceberg. There’s no one to work in our farms.
“That’s why the prices have gone up. But they’re covering up for it,” he said, urging the government to “open the gates” and let people into Australia to work because the situation is “getting ridiculous”.
Despite fearing what would happen if he passes on the high cost of food to his customers, Mr Ykmour announced in a second video last week that the prices at Rashays would be going up this month.
“A box of celery today, I bought it from the markets for $50,” he vented.
Fruit and vegetables hit hard by inflation
It is no secret that Australians are spending more at the supermarket, with shoppers taking to social media to post photos of empty shelves or exorbitant prices.
Last month, one woman was shocked to discover green beans for a whopping $45 per kilogram at her local grocer.
Inflation surged by 6.1 per cent over over the 12 months until the June quarter — the biggest increase since 2001, according to the latest inflation data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Flooding, rising freight costs and supply chain disruptions raised the cost of food by two per cent in the June quarter, with the prices of fruit and vegetables jumping the most — up 7.3 per cent annually.
The prices for bread, cereal, meat and seafood were also hit hard, with a surge of 6.3 per cent annually.
A food retail expert has warned Australians more price hikes are likely still to come.
Farmer: 'You can't find staff'
On Saturday, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones said the government will not be able to “write cheques” to help solve Australians' immediate cost-of-living woes.
“There are a lot of things that are great about the Australian economy ... but we are going to go through a very rocky 12 months, there's no doubt about that,” he told ABC TV, vowing Labor would focus on improving skills in the workforce.
The Albanese government is hoping a proposed independent skills and training body — Jobs and Skills Australia — will help tackle the country’s labour crisis and skills shortage.
Skills Minister Brendan O'Connor introduced the new government's first bill to the parliament on Wednesday.
A solution to the staff shortage can’t come fast enough, a struggling dairy farmer has warned.
“One of the biggest issues that we face in a really nice place, rents have gone up ... and therefore if you're looking for staff to work in your business you can't find them,” Rob Miller, who runs a farm on the NSW south coast, told AAP on Saturday.
“We've lost four full-time staff, so that's over 400 cows we've had to remove from the herd because we don't have the staff.”