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Local salsa business deals with impacts of inflation and produce price hikes

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Unusual weather and the record-breaking summer heat caused problems for local producers. That’s led to limited produce supply for some local businesses facing steep price hikes to keep products on store shelves.

Shelly Eisenberg has been serving homemade salsa to friends and family for ten years. She only turned Salsa Boss into a full-fledged business last spring.

“Now, we do about 500 containers a week,” Eisenberg said. “We do all of the labels by hand, and the more you do, the faster you get!”

Even in that year and a half, a lot has changed.

“Finding produce has become a bit of a stress this year,” Eisenberg said. “And we’ve seen some pretty serious price increases since we started.”

Produce prices pop

Last April, for example, Eisenberg says 50 pounds of onions cost her about 10 dollars. This week, even after a recent price drop, it cost 25 dollars.

And you obviously can’t make salsa without tomatoes. Well, those prices also more than doubled from 18 to 37 dollars per 30 pounds.

“Price increases are hitting us,” Eisenberg said. “But we’re local, we’re small, we’re new. We don’t want to put that on our customers because we want people to buy our products.”

For Salsa Boss production, that means higher prices to make the same amount of product, leaving lower profits and in some cases even changing the product. Last August, Eisenberg sold a late summer, super spicy, “fire” salsa made with locally-sourced ghost peppers and Carolina reapers. This year, her hot pepper supplier faced extreme challenges due to the record-breaking heat.

“So far we’ve gotten one from him. One pepper!” Eisenberg said. “That doesn’t make salsa.”

Eisenberg said he explained the plants just haven’t produced any fruit due to the weather conditions seen across the valley this summer.

“They just don’t like this heat,” Eisenberg said. “And now it’s going to get cold, so we just aren’t going to get any super hot peppers.”

Keeping prices as low as possible

But she remains focused on serving up fresh salsas and their signature Boss Sauce while keeping prices competitive. She’s managed to only raise her farmer’s market price from six to seven dollars for a 16 oz. container of salsa.

“It just means we make less money,” Eisenberg said.

Her youngest son also works part-time helping out in the kitchen, and Eisenberg said she has no plans of hiring outside help anytime soon.

“I really love that we’re family owned and operated and I’d like to keep it that way as long as I can,” she said.

Salsa Boss products are available for sale at the Meridian Farmer’s Market, both Boise Co-Op stores, three local Albertsons and a few restaurants.

Karen Lehr - Idaho News 6
Karen Lehr - Idaho News 6https://www.kivitv.com/karen-lehr
Karen Lehr is a reporter and anchor for Idaho News 6.

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