article> Alma suffers under inflation and wage cost
Alma prices skyrocket: soon seven euros for chicken stew
Prices rise steeply at student restaurant Alma: the classic chicken stew and spaghetti will now cost seven euros, with the cheapest option being just under five. The future of Alma hangs by a thread.
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In the following academic year the prices at student restaurant Alma will rise once again. There is a significant rise in each one of the three price categories. The daily special remains the cheapest option. It will now cost €4,95 - it used to be €3,95. The classic vol-au-vent. or chicken stew, and spaghetti increase from 5,30 to 7 euros.
The most expensive price category, for special dishes such as spare ribs or salmon, will go up from 7 to 10 euros. Sandwiches and soup prices will increase by ten percent. We can however count on all Alma establishments to be open at the start of the year.
Type of dish
Daily dishes such as:
spaghetti, vol-au-vent, …
Special dishes such as:
spare ribs, salmon, …
A necessary evil
The high inflation and increase of prices in the commodity sector are felt in every fold of society. This, as well as a salary indexation of its employees, forced Alma to raise its prices.
The past academic year was very difficult for Alma. Last year two establishments had to close down in the middle of the year, due to the cost of keeping them open being too high. The number of sold dishes last year only amounts to about 70 percent of those sold in 2019, the year before COVID hit.
Prices are at an all-time high
These new prices are therefore unavoidable. Chairman Stefaan Saeys explains: 'The new prices are calculated on the assumption that this year's turnout will be the same as last year's. The prices have been increased so that, in case of an equal turnout, we can reach a break-even.' Saeys is thus hoping for the same turnout as last year.
The newly announced prices are fixed until the end of the first semester. There will be a new evaluation in December. 'If we manage to make more profit, it will all be invested in lower prices', says Saeys.
Alma got hit heavily by the COVID pandemic. The company had to restructure severely last year: 33 jobs were terminated and the institutional kitchen in Heverlee was shut down.
The effect of the higher prices has been all but positive on the turnout. It already caused a mishap last year.
Besides that, the student restaurant made a new agreement with the KU Leuven. Its infrastructure and buildings will now be run and funded by the KU Leuven. The university will also give grants to Alma, depending on the amount of sold dishes. Alma will receive a fixed grant per sold dish.
The money for this grant will come out of the university's own budget and that of the student services (KU Leuven Stuvo). This decision was made in coordination with the student union LOKO. In Alma's press release, LOKO President Bram Schaefer emphasizes that a minimum price under five euros was their key focus, in order to continue to uphold the 'social part Alma must play'.
Following its restructuring and its new agreement with the KU Leuven, Alma can now start with a clean slate. The future will depend entirely on the amount of sold dishes, and whether this amount will correspond with the set goal, which is to reach break-even. The ball will therefore be in the customer's court.
'I am thoroughly convinced we can reach our goal'
STEFAAN SAEYS, ALMA VZW CHAIRMAN
In any case, chairman Stefaan Saeys is optimistic: 'As long as there are no sudden resurgences of COVID, for which there is no current indication, I am thoroughly convinced we can reach our goal.' Increased prices have, however, had all but a positive effect on students in the past. This has already caused a major mishap the past academic year.
These new prices are at an all time high. The future of Alma hangs by a thread. Besides, student life is also increasing in price. A visit to Alma in the upcoming year would rapidly decrease a regular student's weekly allowance.
Who will dig in next year?