Greece’s most popular street food, with locals and tourists alike, is taking a hit from inflation.
Average prices for souvlaki – grilled meat wrapped in a flour pita with tomatoes, onions and garlic yogurt – have spiked in the country’s capital of Athens, as inflation in Greece hovers at a 28-year high.
Prices for the usually inexpensive and accessable treat have risen at least 30 percent from last year to 3.30 euros ($3.55) on average.
“I bought the souvlaki for three euros, I think its the cheapest store I found in Athens, I have paid 3.50 and 3.70 (euros) for it,” said customer George Mavrogiannis, a film director.
“The thing is, it is my beloved snack. When you are out and you don’t have the time to go home and eat you can buy one of these to eat. But for it to have become so expensive when wages are at the same level is a bit unfair, I would say,” he added.
“In the past I would buy three or two souvlaki, today I only bought one, because it is very expensive and wages are low right now,” said customer Morina Ntotsi, a 58-year-old cleaner who earns 720 euros a month.
With the cost of ingredients up sharply and energy prices rising as war and pandemic disrupt supply chains, the surge lays bare some of the main pressures facing the world economy at grassroots level.
“I can’t maintain the business, as long as raw materials are going up then I have to increase the prices, and whoever is able to can eat otherwise we can’t do any different, we will have to close,” said 79 year-old Thanasis Golas, owner of one of the oldest souvlaki taverns in the Monastiraki tourist district of Athens under the Acropolis.
“The war in Ukraine has influenced us a great deal, not just us, everyone. Increases are around 40 percent. “Ιf we didn’t have tourism we would be dead. The Acropolis saves our businesses, otherwise we would be finished,” said Golas.
The Grill and Restaurant Union in Athens says that the price of pork has risen 30% in the last 12 months, sunflower oil generally imported from Ukraine by 125%, and electricity bills more than 100%.
But 67-year old tourist Dave Disis, from the U.S. state of Georgia, joked he would pay any price for the juicy meal.
“I would pay 10 euros for that souvlaki, it’s delicious. It is like most Greek food, delicious.”