If you’re a fan of the world-famous Dario’s Meat Pies you may want to stock up this weekend. Prices for the tasty treat go up on Tuesday from a dollar to a dollar and twenty-five cents at the bakery itself on Hyde’s Lane. Street vendors and other outlets will raise prices accordingly as well. So what’s caused the change for this Belizean-made staple? As News Five’s Aaron Humes found out on a visit to the shop today, it has to do with the changing times.
Aaron Humes, Reporting
The debate over who’s the best at making meat pies may never be settled, but the top contender after all these years is still Dario’s Bakery on Hyde’s Lane. It makes thousands of the tasty treats, with both chicken and beef flavour, for sale on a daily basis except Sundays, and maintains a loyal following. But the economic times have forced the company to make a decision that it knows could cut into that following: a twenty percent increase in prices. As operations manager Brent Hernandez explains, the company has literally eaten increases in two of the products it uses to create its signature.
Brent Hernandez, Operations Manager, Dario’s Bakery
“The last time we implemented a price raise was in 2013, June of 2013, I believe which is approximately four years. From since then to now, to give a couple examples, two examples: in 2013, a hundred-pound cylinder of butane gas was sixty-five or sixty-four dollars to fill the tank; now for a hundred-pound cylinder of butane gasoline, to fill that it would be a hundred and thirty-eight or thirty-seven dollars, which is approximately double the price in four years’ time. Another example: the flour, the flour that we buy from the flour mill. Four years ago, a hundred-pound sack of flour would be forty-eight dollars; now, a sack of flour is approximately sixty-nine dollars. And the sack actually got a little bit smaller – they cut down approximately ten – I think they changed it from a hundred pounds to forty-nine kilos which is a little less than a hundred pounds; so we di get less per sack and [the price] has [risen] thirty to forty percent.”
Even at this mid-morning time, the shop was still full of customers. Hernandez says that to keep those customers, they must make sure Dario’s stays true to its unique blend of meat, spice and baked crust that will keep them coming back for more, despite higher prices.
“Either we raise the price of the product and maintain the quality, or we cut down on the quality of the ingredients that we put in the product to make it the way it is, but in doing so the flavour, the taste, the quality of the pies would drop and so we came to the decision that instead of dropping the quality, we better increase the price. We have a standard to maintain.”
After thirty-five years in business, Dario’s is literally world-famous. Customers have come from as far as England and Australia for business. But with competitors nipping on their heels, is Dario’s asking for trouble? Hernandez hopes for understanding.
“Any price raise on any product – it doesn’t have to be my product – if taxi man raise their price right now, customers will complain at first; their clients will complain in the beginning. But [to] any reasonable Belizean, any reasonable customer, it is plain to see that everything else has risen already, so it is expected and it is reasonable for me to raise my prices as well. In the beginning it will be hard on everybody, because they have already become accustomed to paying a dollar here for the meat pies. And we hope that those of my customers who are loyal to us they will understand and eventually it should level off.”
Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.
Dario’s will be open on Saturday. There is no word on what the prices will be for what Belizeans informally call ‘bruk-ups’ – the nearly whole pies that for one reason or another are rejected and do not make it to the final sale. There are no reports of competitors raising their prices as well.