Blog: Dean BestCraft baking thriving in France

Dean Best | 23 November 2007

2007 has been a tumultuous year for the bakery industry. Rising commodity costs – particularly wheat – have hit the sector, leading to headline-making price rises in the UK and Europe.

In the UK, the likes of Premier Foods have warned that its bread prices will have to rise again to offset a lengthening raw materials bill.

Inter Link Foods, a key private-label bread maker in the UK, was sold after a turbulent few months. There have even been questions over whether Associated British Foods, with its rich bread-making heritage, will remain in the sector, so tough it has been doing business this year.

Bread has also made headlines across the channel. In France, the country’s government was forced to calm fears of a hike in the price of a baguette amid soaring wheat costs.

However, for one senior bakery industry executive in France, fears of rising bread prices are somewhat misplaced.

“It’s false news,” Jean-Paul Broutin, director of Europain, the European bakery exhibition, tells just-food today (23 November). “If the price of wheat doubles that does not double the price of bread.”

For Broutin, the European bread sector remains buoyant. The Europain exhibition, which will be held in Paris from 29 March to 2 April next year, attracts 600 exhibitors and 80,000 trade visitors.

Two-thirds of the exhibitors are French but Broutin says there is growing international interest in the show, which welcomes visitors from Germany to Japan.

And despite consolidation in the sector elsewhere in Europe, the French, Broutin says, are still in love with artisan bakeries. “67% of the market is craft bakers. The number of bakers is decreasing because some of the bakers are buying up more shops but the share of the market is not decreasing.”

French bakers, it seems, are hardly on the bread line.


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