How did the galette des Rois escape inflation? While the prices of food items have increased by more than 12%, the gluttony that prolongs the end of the year with joy has also increased in value. The president of the Federation of Bakery and Bakery-Pastry of Pyrénées-Orientales explained why and above all, his fears for the future of the profession, which has already lost 7 businesses in the last two months.
Romuald Cérézo, as we are in the middle of the season, how much do you estimate the increase in the price of galettes des Rois in the department?
Personally, I increase it by 8%, or about 3.60 euros per slice, making a galette for 4 people at 14.80 €. In general, depending on the location, the increase varies between 8 and 15% also depending on those who have or have not experienced an increase in electricity prices. For some, according to suppliers, the bill has been multiplied by 4, 6 or even 8. Others don’t know yet, they will find out in February or March depending on their subscription contract.
How would you explain in detail the increase in the selling price of a cake (like any other product)?
You should know that in our profession, we have increased wages by 8% this year, following the agreement of the branch. We do not have a minimum wage due to time constraints. I have an apprentice whose salary is increased by 120 euros per month. Ditto for employees at 1800 euros net. Good for them, but in the end, the consumer pays.
Some have been affected by the energy surge since September. They lasted three months
And then in products, the price of butter has reached 30% in just one year, due to the strong demand from some Asian countries for milk. Eggs increased by 20%. Almonds from 15 to 20% like all dried fruits, there also because of a great demand in the world. The flour remained stable, but the flour mills were so energetic, it would rise. The increase in fuel prices has caused the price of all deliveries to increase. Finally, in crowns, boxes, packaging, it is more than 46%! Although we started to see some customers come with their plastic box to avoid throwing paper…
How do customers react? Did the logs sell out these holidays?
We worked like last year, or even less, which means that for the same turnover, we have to reduce our margins. In my case, on the logs, I applied an increase of about 5%. Everyone has to go into it more or less. On the customer side, there are those who tell us “Our pensions, they don’t increase!“, but quite rare. I have great support from my customers, who are well aware of the increase in energy prices and the impact on our activities. It is remarkable! They are eager to see their bakery that close to stay open. They are sincere, but their support is valid to the limit of their wallet. It is clear that many people calculate their expenses, not only in the bakery, moreover. They go to the essentials.
How is the profession organized in the face of these difficulties?
It’s so complicated, we feel disarmed. We have done everything: get credit, build businesses, create jobs, provide training, hire apprentices, we support teachers, in a hit sector. We create wealth for the country and overnight, we change the rules. We are helpless, disillusioned. If we lose 30% of bakers, what will happen to the sector? A lot needs to be removed. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I don’t know. We will have to raise rates, but we know this is counterproductive.
I am afraid that human tragedies will happen like the farmers, the police
I feel that the government has not got the real scale of the problem. When we have bakers from 2,000 to 12,000 euros per month for electricity, we are given a 20% discount, and then a gas plant to add another 20 to 25% help. But I talked about it with my accountant, I told the prefect, we can’t check all the boxes. They need to change their copy. Since November, in Pyrénées-Orientales, 7 bakeries have closed. Some have been affected by the energy surge since September. They lasted for three months, especially when they had a State Guaranteed Loan to pay off at once.
What are your fears for the future of the profession?
There is a great fear of seeing 1/3 of colleagues disappear at the local level. I am afraid of human tragedies like farmers, policemen. We don’t have a reasonable balance unfortunately, but I’m very concerned about that. We, small bakers, bet our homes, our lives in business, then we have nothing left.