The combination of health, energy, and now security crises that have rocked Europe the last two years have considerably disrupted the bakery and pastry sectors, leading to a surge in bread prices.
Yet the president of the Francophone Association of Bakers, Albert Denoncin, warned that things could get considerably worse. Speaking to Walloon daily Sud Presse, he spoke of an unprecedented situation: "In the 50 years of my career, I have never experienced this." Denoncin warned of an inevitable increase in bread prices but stressed that his federation doesn’t set the prices.
"Normally, white bread costs around €2.45-2.48 (per loaf)," said Denoncin. "I am convinced that it will quickly exceed €3 in many bakeries. I wouldn't be surprised if it reaches €5 if we don't cut corners on quality."
Essential sector in desperate need
Belgian households, as well as the baking industry, are feeling the squeeze, Denoncin said. "Our sector is in very great difficulty and it isn't just a reduction in VAT that will change things. We are asking for access to preferential energy tariffs. Bakers are essential."
On 13 March, the Flemish Federation of Bakers, Bakkers Vlaanderen, announced an increase in the price of bread by €0.30 this year. For Denoncin, the cost of flour is an issue.
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Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and Ukraine is the fifth largest, according to the United Nations food agency. Together, they account for 19% of the world’s barley supply, 14 % of wheat, and 4% of maize, in total over a third of the world’s cereal exports.
However, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said that the war in Ukraine makes it unlikely that Ukraine will plant crops; it is uncertain whether Russia will export supplies as the war rages.