From unicorns to avocado toast, hipster fads jack up food prices

Are hipsters to be blamed for jacking up food prices? Fads like avocado toast and exotic coffee drinks have driven up costs for avocados and vanilla beans.
Are hipsters to be blamed for jacking up food prices? Fads like avocado toast and exotic coffee drinks have driven up costs for avocados and vanilla beans. ST FILE PHOTO

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) – Hipsters have been blamed for polarising trends from jeans to facial hair. Now they are making it more expensive to enjoy breakfast.

Blame it on unicorn toast, whose rapid spike in popularity has contributed to a surge in cream cheese prices. There are also other fads like avocado toast and exotic coffee drinks that have driven up costs for avocados and vanilla beans. Even cauliflower, a staple in the vegan diets favored by some hipsters, is near a record high.

Unicorn toast features bread topped with cream cheese and various food colours or super-food powders swirled in, and Instagram is loving it. Unfortunately, it is not the cheapest to recreate as cream cheese prices have risen 31 per cent over the past year.

It is even worse with avocados, where a 10kg box of Hass avocados from the state of Michoacan, Mexico’s biggest producer, now costs more than double what it was a year earlier and is the highest in data going back 19 years.

Cauliflower’s rise from vegetable afterthought to darling of the vegan and gluten-free diet has already contributed to a spike in Canada’s consumer prices. In the US, prices have tripled in a little more than a year, thanks in no small part to trendy recipes like cauliflower rice and cauliflower crust pizza. The vegetable’s price has come down from its peak, but is still higher than the historical average.

Vanilla’s price rise might be better laid at the feet of corporate America, but hipsters cannot be absolved entirely. Starbucks Corp.’s attempt to tap into the seemingly bottomless appetite for all things unicorn – Frappuccino anyone? – has sent the cost of the bean within striking distance of a record.

And Starbucks itself is sitting near all-time highs as it profits from these trends. When the company released earnings late last week, it singled out the success of its Unicorn Frappuccino.

If Starbucks is any example, the quick capitalisation on these popular trends by major companies is not going away.

“What happened with Unicorn, drove significant traffic, incrementality, awareness, brand affinity,” Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said on the company’s most recent earnings.“Stay tuned, because we have a lot more coming.”