The meat supply problem is adding to the financial woes of many restaurants grappling with losses. This has driven up the cost of meat, and the price of meat dishes served in the restaurants.
However, restaurant sales are also beginning to improve as the government has allowed the import of frozen and packaged meat in the country.
The owner of Shazam restaurant in Thimphu said that a large number of customers order meat dishes, but when they don’t find their favorite meat dish on the menu, they walk away from the door itself.
“For the past few months, it has been hard for the restaurant since there was limited stock of meat in the market,” she said. She is able to make more meat curries with the frozen meat now available in the market and that is helping to improve sales.
“For now we are receiving our customers given that we are able to provide their favorite dishes, but pork is not available in the market, since most of the Bhutanese consume pork we are losing a few of our customers,” she said.
She also said that the meat prices has gone up resulting in increase of price for the meat dishes in the restaurant. She said that she has increased the price for meat dishes by Nu 10 to Nu 30.
“We want to stay open to serve our customers, but if we don’t make a change, we are not able to break even. We have to pay our staff and the rent for the restaurant space. We hope our customers will understand our reasons for increasing prices,” she said.
Karma’s Dhaba owner said that the business has completely dropped since there is a shortage of meat in the market.
“Currently, some meats like mutton and pork are missing in our menu as there is no supply in the market,” he said.
The restaurant is trying to minimize the impact of the price increase on their customers, however, due to the meat shortage and doubled price of meat, there is an increase in the price of dishes by Nu 20 to Nu 25.
“The only way we can afford to stay open and stay strong is by raising our prices until the meat prices drop. We simply can’t afford to open with price of goods continuing to rise since we have to pay rent and salary for the staff,” he said.
The Owner of Kalden restaurant said that number of customers has decreased.
“Our restaurant used to servve Bhutanese dishes, like shakam and sikam, but there is a limited meat supply in the market and the customers doesn’t prefer regular meat,” he said, adding that the price for the meat dishes in his restaurant has not changed.
He said, “Currently, we are managing to pay the rent and staff salaries from the savings we made when the business was running smooth. We hope that the situation will improve and the business will be back up soon.”
Meanwhile, frozen beef is sold at Nu 400 per kilogram (kg), frozen chicken at Nu 260 to Nu 350 per kg and packaged pork at Nu 450 per kg.