Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Trip to the Bakery: Rising Bread Costs

About a month ago, I stopped in at Avenues Bakery in Salt Lake and noticed the price of bread was higher than I'd remembered. I asked the lady at the counter, "why the price increase?" and she said the price of wheat has gone up. Most of you might have already realized this and are thinking... duh!! Wake up! But since I've been living in a cave the last year, I've been a little clueless.

Here's a sales clerk named Laura:

She is smiling soo carefree-like and wearing flowers in her hair that it makes me wonder if I should work at a bakery too? Why don't we all just do that? Have you wondered why all these coffee pourers and bread sellers are so happy?

I must admit, I don't often find my nose in the financial section of the Wall Street Journal checking to see how world-wide drought or a burgeoning demand for bio-fuel might be jacking up the prices of wheat (and thus my bread). But after my trip to the bakery, I'm positively inspired to become more informed where food in concerned.

Why has wheat prices gone up? Droughts in areas like Australia have yielded smaller harvests while developing countries like India and China are increasing in their demand for wheat for food and animal feed. Biofuel production has also pushed up corn and soybean prices. And the price of vegetable oils used in packaged foods and biodiesel has also increased. Four months ago, in August 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that world wheat inventories were at their 26-year lows- And that's not all... it seems that all food commodities will go up as a result.. the cost of meat, the cost of milk... because of the increased cost of animal feed. Consumers pay attention!

Volker's German bakery is another favorite stop. I love their poppyseed sweet rolls. Here's a photo of a few pastries.

Something as simple as going to a local bakery clued me into what was going on in the world- another reason to buy food stuff made in your own neck of the woods (to get informed!) Would I have taken notice had I bought fluffy Wonder bread from the Big Box grocery store? Perhaps not!

Foxbusiness news reports that wheat prices won't immediately translate into a rise in retail prices for bread, cereal, cookies, etc, due partly because. . .
Companies like Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc. (GIS: 57.00, -0.51, -0.88%), ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG: 23.79, -0.18, -0.75%) and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT: 32.63, -0.32, -0.97%) typically protect themselves from price volatility with long-term supply contracts. But analysts say consumers should expect that higher wheat prices will eventually work their way into the grocery aisle.

Just today the Chicago Tribune reported that Sara Lee Corp, who turns out buns and frozen pies, is raising bread prices in North America for the second time trying to counter wheat prices.


plainoldsarah said...

when i visited my sister and family in california i was impressed to find my 15 year old nephew had read michael pollan's book, "the carnivore's dilemma." i've been wanting to read it. your post reminded me of that desire once again. and working at a bakery sounds wonderful!

Jen said...


I'm still not finished with the book, but when I am, you're welcome to borrow it!