Diesel Up, Food Up

JONESBORO (KAIT) - With oil at over a hundred dollars a barrel the high prices don't just stop at the pump.  Oil and petroleum products touch almost everything we eat, from packaging to getting it to the stores.

The trickle down effect is striking your refrigerator from the loading dock and your wallet is or will be feeling the wallop.

WR foods in Jonesboro is a distributor of fresh foods. The high cost of diesel and petroleum based products is slowly closing in on them.

Bryan Wagner, Owner, WR Foods, "We're seeing everyday, a shipper, grower, distributor giving us a memo that says their packaging, fuel prices, harvesting equipment that goes into fresh fruits and vegetables is going up and they are passing it along slowly but surely because they have absorbed it long enough."

They have been able to work the price of fuel into what they are charging the customer with out a surcharge.

Wagner, "There's no surcharges yet, we've experimented with it since most of our companies are surcharging us now so it's a pass along. But being at the bottom of the food chain we're slower to pass it along to the consumer."

One of the ways WR Foods deals with the fuel prices is how they buy their diesel.

Wagner, "We buy in bulk, we have a tank, we fill up the trucks every morning so it's a lot cheaper for us to do it that way."

The price of diesel fuel aside. Another way the price of oil affects the food distribution business is in bulk shipment. This 50 pound bag of onions is in a big plastic mesh bag. Inside this bag are little plastic mesh bags, all this, oil based products. All this costs the shipper and eventually costs you, the consumer.

All of this oil related expense drives up costs and lowers profits.

Wagner, "Our products are such a low margin that it's closer to a loss situation."

Wagner says that unfortunately he may eventually have to add fuel or other surcharges to his customers bills.

Wagner, "Eventually we're gonna have to, we're gonna have to pass it along and that's coming next so hopefully everybody can work together in the industry to absorb this together."

For now Wagner urges his drivers to load carefully to avoid mistakes and fuel wasting return trips. Also he tells them to ease up on the gas pedal.

"Little things that non scientific but it does make a difference."

The nationwide average cost for a gallon of diesel on Tuesday  is three dollars and eighty two cents.