Fast food is fast becoming a treat for a select few as prices soar internationally. In Greece, with inflation at 2.9%, the price of our own national fast food, souvlaki or gyro in a pita wrap, shows no signs of returning to pre-inflationary crisis levels. Instead, prices continue to rise to record highs, while market insiders believe the average may even have passed the psychological barrier of four euros by the end of the year.

Talking to TA NEA, Attica Grill Association President Nikos Angelousoulis spoke of below-average price rises in the grill sector as he explained that price hikes were inevitable, given how the cost of energy and raw materials has sky-rocketed in the last two years. “Unfortunately, that’s the reality: costs have gone up, while online platforms have made their presence felt, with people choosing to order on them despite the surcharge, which can be as high as 15–30% of the price of the meal. At the same time, utility bills remain high and our suppliers expensive, so our tariffs have had to remain high, too, to keep our shops and restaurants in business.”

As to whether a return to lower prices could be on the horizon, Angelousoulis points out that everything depends on what the stores buy in and what they sell. “For prices to fall, the cost of energy would have to go down first, along with our utility bills. When that happens, we’ll be the first to pass the savings on. We are in the front line in the battle against rising living costs, and souvlaki has to stay something everyone can afford—that’s non-negotiable. Which is why we’ll do everything we can to keep it that way. We’ve already reduced our profit margin, but we need to really push our products to keep sales at normal levels,” he says.

In view of the upcoming holiday season, Nikos Angelousoulis is keen to point out that, though meat prices have been climbing for a long time, Athens’ grills have unanimously agreed to absorb the price increase. He expresses the hope that things will improve in the New Year: “Of course, we keep hearing that energy prices are about to go crazy or our suppliers on the point of raising their prices again. Everyone lives in fear of what’s around the corner—I hope it doesn’t happen, that’s all I can say.”

In this context, grill owners are finding that a lot of their long-time customers are limiting both the quantity and the frequency of their orders. However, the Attica Grill Association President says customer numbers remain high nonetheless, as consumers have realised that a kebab wrap is still cheaper than other fast food options or buying food from a supermarket, despite the price increases. “What needs stressing here, though, is that consumers need to do more research now, to find the best value for their money. Because there are still kebab shops out there with wraps for under three euros. Souvlaki got the middle and working classes through the crisis, and we hope we can continue to do that,” he concludes.

The map of souvlaki prices

According to a survey in which TA NEA compared the price of pita gyro wraps in shops around the country, the price hikes have been particularly large over the last year, but vary significantly from region to region.

Specifically, in Attica, the average price for a wrap today ranges from 3.2 to 3.5 euros. In parts of the wealthy northern suburbs, this can climb as high as 3.8 euros, while some kebab shops have already broken the 4 euro barrier. At the same time, in Piraeus, a simple gyro wrap has risen from 3.2 euros tops this time last year to 3.8 euros this year, while in Kallithea they sell for 3.6 euros, up from 3.4 euros last year. In Egaleo, from an average of 3.2 euros in December 2022, wraps now cost 3.5 euros.

Which makes it clear that Athenian kebabs skewer the pocket worst of all, with Kolonaki, Kefalari, Glyfada and Vouliagmeni the frontrunners when it comes to high prices—we found grills in all four areas with wraps on the menu for as much as 6 euros. At the other end of the spectrum, you can still find a souvlaki wrap in Metaxourgio, Omonia or Aharnes for 2.2 euros.

In Greece’s other major cities (we surveyed Thessaloniki, Patras, Larissa, Volos and Heraklion), the average price for a souvlaki in pita will set you back at least 3.5 euros and sometimes as much as 5.5 euros. Indicatively, the average price for a wrap in Greece as a whole rose from 2.5 euros in 2021 to 3.5 euros in June 2022, while high-season prices in tourist areas can exceed 10 euros. And prices haven’t stopped climbing…