More dough for your loaf: bread prices likely to keep rising

High energy bills and more expensive raw materials and packaging are pushing up the price of bread at bakeries and supermarkets by around 10%, market research bureau GfK has found.

The average price for a loaf at a supermarket went up by 10.8% per kilo while bakeries increased their prices by an average 9.1%.

Bakeries in particular need support, researcher Servé Muijres told the AD. ‘Energy costs make up a large chunk of the cost price for bakers, more so than for supermarkets. The impact on them is greater,’ he said.

Energy costs used to be a small part of the cost of bread but it has gone up to between 40% and 50%, Marie-Hélène Zengerink, director of the Dutch bread and pastry bakers organisation NBOV said. ‘Where customers were charged eight cents a loaf for energy that is now 80 cents becuase of the rising gas prices. That is disproportionate.’

Pastry bakers Maurits van Geenen, who owns Strik Patisserie in Malden said he uses fewer ovens than regular bakeries. ‘But we have more cooling installations which use energy. Our contract is fixed until January, but I also now pastry bakeries on flexible contracts, which is a nightmare.’

Van Geenen said risks are part of entrepreneurship but that the price hikes are so excessive many businesses could go under. The government should lend financial support, he said, but bakers too have a responsibility to work more sustainably.

‘Bakers must economise where they can. I have 200 solar panels on the roof of my bakery but that is not enough by far to compensate the current rise in energy costs,’ he told the paper.

A government support package for businesses which has been announced for November may come too late for many bakers, Zengerink said. ‘Something has to be done now. Last week alone we talked to seven bakers who will have to file for bankruptcy if they don’t get help very soon.’

Another way of helping bakers would be for energy firms to freeze the energy prices for bakers. Zengerink said.

If government aid does not materialise in the short term bread prices will go up further, Muijres expects. ‘There are no concrete plans for energy compensation as yet and the grain and wheat market remains instable, so bread will not become cheaper any time soon.’

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