OGDEN — Don’t count on spikes in the prices of burritos or avocados at Ogden eateries and supermarkets, notwithstanding President Donald Trump‘s push for a new 5% tariff on goods from Mexico.
Not immediately, anyway.
To be sure, Trump’s proposal to raise the tariffs to pressure Mexico to take steps to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States has Javier Chavez’s attention. He’s operator of Javier’s Authentic Mexican Food, a chain of Ogden-area restaurants, and gets some of his produce from Mexico, like avocados and tomatoes.
But if the tariffs do go in effect, his suppliers would likely search out the best prices on affected goods to temper the impact of any price hikes. Avocados, in particular, are getting a lot of attention as the tariff debate unfolds, but Mexico is hardly the only source of the good. Ecuador, Chile and the United States are also producers, Chavez noted.
Dick Harwood, chief operating officer of Rancho Markets, a Utah-based chain of nine supermarkets, including two in Ogden, that caters particularly to Latino customers, said he’s following the debate. It’s not consuming him, though.
“Everybody’s talking about it. Everybody has conjecture on what they think it will do,” he said.
Chipotle Mexican Grill said in a statement Monday that if the tariffs were implemented and kept in place, the national restaurant chain would see an increase in costs of $15 million for 2019, possibly requiring a price increase of 5 cents per burrito, CNBC reported. Like Chavez, though, Harwood said Rancho has many suppliers it can tap in trying to find the lowest prices on impacted goods, if Trump’s tariffs ultimately take effect.
Significantly, Harwood said outlets catering to Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and other Latinos, including restaurants and supermarkets — an ubiquitous segment in Ogden — would hardly be alone in having to contend with price hikes on Mexican goods. Depending on the time of year, Mexico is a major supplier to most U.S. supermarkets of all sorts of produce, like cantaloupes, watermelon and cucumbers, Harwood said.
“Produce is not ethnic,” he said.
What’s more, there are potentially worse things that can put upward pressure on prices, such as crop-devastating occurrences like hurricanes. Dealing with tariffs and other surprises, Harwood said, is “part of the business.”
Still, Chavez, for one, doesn’t like the idea of increasing tariffs on Mexican goods. Via the hikes, Trump, facing opposition even from some Republican lawmakers, aims to force the Mexican government’s hand, making it take more aggressive action to slow or stop illegal border crossings.
Chavez, though, worries about the impact on consumers, who may bear the brunt of any new tariffs. “It’s going to affect everyone, not just the businesses,” he said.