Power and flour – rising prices, but what about French bread?
Due to the energy crisis and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the cost of power and flour is rising across France and Europe. Electricity costs and the cost of flour is affecting local bread businesses – the local bakery, la boulangerie.
The French government has recently announced that French bakers will receive tax relief to keep their bakeries open. The tax relief will enable bakers to pay their taxes over a period of months in an effort to assist bakers. The announcement came after fears that many local bakeries will be forced to cut the number of working hours, and staff, or even go out of business.
The French government spent 34 billion euros in 2022 to keep power (energy) prices stable for businesses and households as the high cost-of-living crisis threatens the economy across Europe.
Bakeries are the bread and butter businesses in France – or the baguettes and croissants of business. They have a central role in French traditions. In March 2021, France applied to have the baguette given UNESCO world heritage status! UNESCO is yet to make a decision on that. However, in modern times, the boulanger has introduced a range of breads, cakes, pastries, and artisanal products to their arsenal.
The French would revolt if they did not get their daily bread. They did revolt! During the French Revolution, in October 1798, Denis Francois did not open his bakery – and an angry mob lynched him for this despicable act! The French assembly passed a law to force bakeries to keep citizens fed. The amended legislation in 1957 gave town halls in Paris the power to regulate the opening hours of their local bakeries. The aim was to ensure the availability of bread everywhere.
‘We can’t expect people to have to jump in a car to go in search of a loaf of bread,’ said a spokesperson of the Paris Chamber of Professional Bakers.
The Bread Observatory says there are 35,000 bakeries in France serving 12 million customers every day, which is 6 billion baguettes every year. Euronews reported that 320 baguettes are eaten every second in France, with 50% of French citizens living within 2.2 kilometres (1.4 miles) of a bakery. In Paris, 73% of people live less than a kilometre (half a mile) from a bakery. That’s a five-minute walk to a bakery – 9 minutes for French rural folk.
So, the bakers’ law is well enacted. The Paris Chamber of Professional Bakers says there are less than 20 complaints each year about bakeries not being open.
But the price power and flour are rising. In 2022, the price of a baguette rose by 30 centimes (33 cents), which is an increase of 13% compared to 2021, reported Forbes.
A baker talking to Forbes magazine said,
‘After all, what is bread if not just flour, electricity, minimum wage, and gas?’
No truer word has been spoken! And that’s the power of flour!