Monday, May 5, 2008

Prices on the rise for aluminum, glass, PVB, milk, coffee, stamps …

—By Katy Devlin, commercial glass and metals editor, Glass Magazine

Officials from Wawa, the 24-hour convenience store that oft served as my temple for midnight cravings during college, upped its coffee prices by 6 cents, according to a May 2 Associated Press report. The cause: rising gas price.

According to the Energy Information Administration, gas prices on April 28 were at about $3.60, up 62 cents compared to last year. Diesel fuel, at $4.18, was up $1.37.

Stamp costs will increase to 42 cents, with fuel costs also to blame, right along with grocery prices—milk prices are up 26 percent and egg prices 40 percent since last year, according to a March 9 article from The Boston Globe.

I finally got over the sticker shock of seeing prices at the pump top $2, then $3 and now at times $4, and now it’s started with my coffee, my stamps, my milk and my eggs, too. Don’t even get me going on the jumps in my subway fares and Zipcar rates.

The industry has been feeling price increases for even longer than I’ve suffered my 6-cent bump in coffee costs. The first three issues of e-glass weekly in June 2006 all contained articles about pricing. Click here for the e-glass weekly archives. Aluminum, in particular, has been on a price rollercoaster.

Mike Petersen, president of Petersen Aluminum in Chicago, told me last week he worries customers will start looking for alternatives because of the high cost for aluminum products; prices for aluminum on the London Metal Exchange have spiked 21 percent since the start of the year. But he added that prices for those alternatives are also on the rise. “Vinyl has gone up just as much,” he said. Read an article in this week’s e-glass weekly to learn more about rising aluminum costs.

The industry has also seen glass prices and fuel surcharges rise, right along with related products including PVB.

How high can gas prices go? And what impact will we feel from the falling dollar?

While these questions are worrisome, the scariest thing about these price increases is that I’ve started saying things like: “Why, when I was a kid, I could go to the movies for $4, send a letter for 25 cents and fill up my parents’ Ford Escort wagon for $10.”