Pricing. Some Uncomfortable Realities.

Dear Friends,

One of our uncomfortable realities this summer is that we have to raise our prices. 

I've been reluctant to do this! I've felt a bit grumpy about the way everything at my grocery store seemed to go up a dollar, while some of the package sizes shrank. (Do people now drink 10 or 11.5 ounces of seltzer rather than 12? And doesn't the downsize require all new super-expensive packing equipment?) But deeper down I think the increases have been a nagging reminder that we too have no choice but to adjust our prices.

Pricing is complicated for a non-profit. But here are some of the facts and our calculus:

Our ingredients have gone up by at least 13% in the last year. Some items like organic sunflower seeds jumped 44%!  And our premium Yirgacheffe Ethiopian coffee is up about 40% since we introduced it. Shipping too keeps going up.  And given the war in Ukraine, gas hikes, and ongoing supply chain problems, I doubt price increases are done with us yet. While we did raise some prices last year, we didn't touch wholesale, bulk, distributors, or subscribers. 

We also recently raised wages and stipends for our staff and trainees. We actually raised wages last December--a long-anticipated celebratory increase. We knew our supporters would appreciate how this would improve the lives of staff and trainees. But then this year's inflation wiped out those gains. So we raised wages again a bit last month.

I decided with our team that we weren't going to play the shrinkflation game (of decreasing item sizes while raising prices) to try and hide price increases. We also decided we would stick with our recipes and the high proportion of expensive nuts and seeds rather than try to save money by substituting lower quality items. 

Beyond this we have all our normal tensions about pricing as a non-profit. On the one hand, our goals are all about impact rather than profit. We value an accessible price point, especially in stores. That way a stranger who picks it up might learn something about refugees. On the other hand, our fans care that part of purchase price is going directly to refugee training and this becomes part of the joy of the purchase. It's always important to us that both the price and the quality draw attention to the value of refugees. 

So what to do?

In the end we're opting for about a 10% price increase. This will be a bit higher on items we did not increase last year such as wholesale and subscriptions. We decided not to jump the gun and raise prices in advance of further increases. If ingredients keep going up we'll just do it again later. Since we're launching both a refreshed website and new packaging quite soon, we'll coordinate these increases with the launch. 

You'll be hearing lots more about our new packaging in the next month. We're thrilled about it. But we also want you to know that, while it does cost a bit more than our former packaging, it actually saves money with labor and will allow us to shift more trainee time towards training and tutoring.

So that's our thinking. We really do want everyone to know how much we appreciate our customers. We feel honored to be doing this work in this way and deeply appreciate everyone for sticking with us, our products, and our staff and trainees during this inflationary period.

 

Written by Keith Cooper

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