Bad weather sees the cost of baking rise

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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BAKERS have warned consumers to be prepared for rising bread and cake prices thanks to Britain’s wet spring.

Producers are facing a £50-a-ton hike in the price of flour, equivalent to 13 per cent of the cost of the raw ingredient, and some of that will be passed on to consumers.

The National Association of Master Bakers (NAMB) said yesterday that prices in shops and supermarkets have already gone up after poor weather conditions.

Raw ingredients for shoppers – keen to try their hand at the sort of products made famous in The Great British Bake Off – could also be affected as yields decline and prices rise on commodities markets.

NAMB chairman Mike Holling said: “It’s not been good at all. Unfortunately, when you have the weather we have had – early in the year very dry conditions and then as the year progressed we came to the very wet weather – this really reduced the total yield of British wheat 

Mr Holling said the impact of the poor crop was now being felt in increased prices for the flour bakers use to produce bread, cakes, pies and savoury snacks.

“We have taken a flour increase of £50 a ton, and that is roughly 13 per cent. At the end of the day, the manufacturer can’t sustain that kind of increase,” he said.

“As the end-user, we try to pass a small amount of the percentage on to the consumer and absorb the rest, but this is very volatile.”

Mr Holling said he had never known a situation like it in the baking industry, adding: “What we are seeing at the moment, even in the supermarkets, is a 400g loaf having to go up by 5p and an 800g by 10p.

“And flour is not only used in bread, it is pastry, cream cakes, savoury products. It is right across the board.

“The problem is the shortfall in wheat production in the UK. It has been reported that we are having to take an extra two million tons from Germany just to bring it back.”

Scottish bakers said they were facing monthly rising prices across all ingredients and were struggling not to pass on the costs to consumers.

Sandy Milne, director of Fisher & Donaldson bakers in Fife, said: “Over the past six to nine months, not just flour but beef, sugar, milk, oats and everything across the spectrum have increased.

“Prices are going to rise quite steeply – we are going to have to pass that on to our customers.

“The price of pies and bread and rolls have to go up. I can see prices rising over the next 
12 months.”

Mr Milne said farmers were not benefiting from these rises as most were linked to trading on international commodity markets. He added: “I have sympathy with farmers who don’t get as much.”

The British Retail Consortium reported this week that food inflation accelerated to 4.6 per cent in November from 4 per cent in October, with the blame placed on commodity increases such as wheat and corn.