AUSTIN (KXAN) – For Max Varela, CEO of Alicias Tacoriendo in Austin, the practice of making tamales during the holidays is a celebration and ancestral recognition, he said. Families gather around kitchen tables, preparing tamales, and remembering loved ones and personal traditions.
For many families in central Texas, tamales are a cornerstone of the Christmas season. However, this year, increased ingredient costs have caused some stores to raise their tamale prices, Varela said.
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Amid a national supply chain shortage, meat costs have risen as the number of workers helping meat factories has decreased. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Varela said he would pay around $ 2.50 a pound for beef fajita.
At its peak during the pandemic, that cost estimate rose to about $ 11, he said. Now? It’s closer to $ 5, twice what it was two years ago.
“We’ve been in the tamale business for probably over 35 years, and my mother always has. and [the cost] fluctuates from time to time, ”he says. “But with COVID in particular, we have definitely seen an enormously increased premium.”
Not only the meat prices are affected, but also the costs of cheese have risen, said Varela. His family’s food truck and catering van prides itself on its hefty fillings, he said. Due to the increased production costs, his company increased the price of tamales this year.
Alicias Tacoriendo isn’t the only local tamale vendor affected by supply chain issues. Tamale Addiction at Manor also noted issues with collecting the various bowls they use, as well as the limited availability of filling ingredients.
“In some weeks we can’t find any meat, you can’t even find cardboard boxes or paper plates like the ones we use for our catering service,” says Adrian Paredes, owner of Tamale Addiction.
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While product restrictions have forced some companies to adapt, Varela says that most customers understand and are happy to pay the surcharge for their tamales this holiday season.
“We have customers that we have dealt with for 10 years, 15 years and they are still buying 10 dozen at a time, 20 dozen at a time from us,” he said, adding, “We have been kind of inundated last week but it’s a good thing. That’s really good because it’s kind of a moneymaker. “