Jack in the Box Hit by Rising Potato Costs in Sign of Inflation

(Bloomberg) -- Slinging french fries is getting expensive.

Jack in the Box Inc. is paying more for potatoes in 2018, executives said on a conference call Thursday after the company reported disappointing quarterly sales. The comments indicate that others in the fast-food industry, such as McDonald’s Corp. and Burger King, may be seeing higher prices for one of their signature items, too.

“One of the biggest inflationary items has been potatoes for the entire year -- and that continues for most of our competitors, as well as of ourselves,” said Carol DiRaimo, head of investor relations and corporate communications for the chain.

Retail potato prices were 4.3 percent higher in April than they were a year ago at about 73 cents a pound, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At Jack in the Box, total commodity inflation was 3.6 percent in its most recent quarter.

Jack in the Box shares fell as much as 8.5 percent to $83.57 in New York, the biggest intraday drop in more than a year.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.