MERIDIAN, Idaho — Hailey and Dustin Laub, the owners of MEP Meals, are familiar with the ever-changing demands of their industry.
MEP Meals has been in business since 2016, offering healthy and proportioned meals for delivery across the Treasure Valley. Like so many other businesses, COVID-19 presented unique challenges for the Laubs.
"During COVID, the meats were really hard to get," said Dustin.
Another product that proved difficult to find: plastic containers to pack meals in.
"Everyone was using takeout, and we all use the same meal prep containers. When we were ordering 1,500 to 2,000 a week, everyone else was ordering a lot more and that was pretty difficult," he says.
Now, a nationwide rise in gas prices is impacting their delivery costs.
GasBuddy reports gas prices are the highest they've been since 2014. In Meridian, the average price of unleaded gas is $3.37 per gallon.
Dustin, who drives three delivery trucks, says this time last year, gas was $300 per week. Now he's spending anywhere between $450 to $500, noting that he's seen at least a $1.24 increase.
Driving 20 hours a week across the Treasure Valley, he and his wife are doing everything they can to avoid raising their prices.
"We have paid more for food from time to time. We pay more for gas right now, but we try not to change the prices very much. A lot of times when it’s up for a short amount of time, we just eat the cost knowing that it’s not going to be forever, and it’s gonna come back down," said Dustin.
Dustin and Hailey have had a $10 delivery charge from the start and have no plans to alter their prices anytime soon, but if food, supply, and gas were to rise at once, that could affect their initial decision.
GasBuddy's Petroleum Analyst says prices should level out shortly before Memorial Day Weekend but a rise in prices nearing record levels is expected by mid-summer.