Ballooning brunch price no barrier

SAM BOYER - CONSUMER AFFAIRS
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2013
Eggs benedict
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
EGGS BENEDICT: You can make it at home for around $5, but even at $16 people are flocking to cafes to buy it.

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Brunch prices have risen by as much as 40 per cent in the past five years, meaning that a humble eggs benedict has grown a costly price tag.

Throw in a coffee or an orange juice, and a meal that cost $16 in 2008 is now closer to $25.

But brunchers seem prepared to pay the prices - even though the same meal would cost just $5 to cook at home.

A comparison of cafes in the Hutt Valley, Porirua, Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, central Wellington and suburbs found the average price for an eggs benedict brunch was just over $16.

Prices were fairly even across the cafes surveyed, with Parade Cafe in Oriental Pde in Wellington the most expensive at $18, followed by Floriditas Cafe in Cuba St at $17.50.

The cheapest among the cafes surveyed was at the White Swan in Greytown, at $15.50.

Eggs benedict was selected for the survey because it's the most common brunch item.

Flat whites averaged around $4, long blacks $3.50 and orange juice $4.50.

A plate of eggs benedict is up about 20 per cent from five years ago, when it cost about $13-$14.

Coffee is up by as much as 40 per cent, and orange juice about 27 per cent.

Wellington cafes blamed the increases on the rising costs of dairy products, GST and rent.

Even successful cafes struggled to turn a significant profit, with produce, overheads and wages eating up around 90 per cent of revenue, Caffe L'affare hospitality and sales manager Olly Lawrence said.

"All cafes incur a variety of costs. The biggest killer is rent - our rent went up about 30 per cent in the last six years."

Fidel's general manager Kristie Malone said skyrocketing dairy prices and an increase in GST in October 2010 were also responsible.

Global dairy prices then hit a three-year high in mid-2011. "When GST went through, everyone put their prices up," Ms Malone said. "Then we had the [dairy] bonanza."

But the prices won't deter keen brunchers such as Lucy Mutch, founder of Wellington Foodies, a group with about 390 members who meet up regularly to eat, cook and talk about food.

Brunch was such an institution in Wellington that cost almost didn't matter, she said.

"It's a great way to socialise, partaking of a gorgeous cup of coffee and a great brunch. People with expendable income are able to get out and enjoy brunches, before they get kids and commitments.

"It's something we do really well. New Zealand is renowned globally for how well it does its breakfasts and brunches."

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SHOPPING LIST HOMEMADE BRUNCH (FOR THREE)

6 x size 7 eggs: $2.24

6-pack English muffins: $3.19

Hollandaise sauce pouch: $4.46

Deli sliced champagne ham: $4.90 for 200g

Total $14.79, or $4.93 a head

Most expensive eggs benedict, Parade Cafe, Oriental Bay: $18

Median eggs benedict price = $16 Havana 5 Star Espresso Grind 200g, $8.89.

Makes about 10 double-shot coffees Double shot long black at home: 89c each. With milk: approx $1

Most expensive flat white: $4.50 at The White Swan, Greytown

Most expensive long black = $4.50 at The White Swan, Greytown Simply Squeezed Orange Juice 1l: $3.65. Serves three at $1.22 a glass

Most expensive OJ: $5 at several surveyed cafes

Cafes compared: Floriditas, Cuba St, Wellington; Fidel's, Cuba St; Caffe L'affare, central Wellington; Elements Cafe, Lyall Bay; Maranui Surf Club, Lyall Bay; Cafe Polo, Miramar; Parade Cafe, Oriental Bay; Peppermill Delicatessen, Porirua; Cafe Reka, Lower Hutt; Jetty Cafe, Petone; Piccolo Cafe, Taupo; The White Swan in Greytown; Cafe Ujazi, Napier.

RESTAURANTS IN WELLINGTON:

Wellington has the highest number of employees per eatery, at 7.9, compared with 6.5 in Auckland. Wellington has 3.6 eateries for every 1000 people, compared with 2.2 in New York. Cafes, restaurants and bars employ 2.9 per cent of the city's population. 12 per cent of restaurant spending in New Zealand is in Wellington.

- The Dominion Post

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