Business planning, Finance, Legal

Independent bakers hit out at supermarket power

Michelle Hammond /

Independent bakers are calling for a boycott of cheap, mass-produced supermarket bread in a bid to stay afloat, claiming the supermarkets’ slashed prices are forcing small bakeries to close.

 

The move comes as the National Baking Industry Association warns new Federal superannuation levies, pushed through Parliament last month, could “spell the end” for many small bakeries.

 

Brett Noy, of Uncle Bob’s Bakery in the Brisbane suburb of Belmont, says many bakeries are struggling due to cheap, mass-produced supermarket bread, including loaves prices as low as $1.

 

It’s been reported there are 22 bakeries for sale in Queensland, going for $60,000 to $500,000.

 

“We’re just asking people to really think about where they buy their bread,” Noy says.

 

“The one thing that we know from our customers is that they do put a high value on being able to get a fresh product when they want it and, for most of them, that’s every day.”

 

“That’s not the case with supermarkets. Just because bread is soft doesn’t mean it’s fresh.”

 

In August, the NBIA launched a campaign titled “Not All Bread Is Created Equal”, which recognises bakers who create fresh bread from scratch every day.

 

NBIA general manager Paul McDonald says the campaign highlights bakers “who are the best at what they do” in an attempt to downplay the appeal of $1 loaves produced by the supermarkets.

 

“This campaign identifies those bakers who value freshness over mass-produced and distributed product,” McDonald says.

 

“Major manufacturers ship their product hundreds of kilometres around the country, and therefore they produce bread which could be sold up to three days later.”

 

“Consumers shouldn’t have to settle for days-old bread, passing itself off as freshly baked.”

 

Noy says if the supermarkets continue to price bread as low as $1 – and promote it as fresh – it could have a long-term impact on the industry.

 

“The danger with it continuing unabated and unmeasured is that there’s a risk that we’re going to have a reduction in the amount of people taking on bakery apprenticeships,” he says.

 

However, not all independent bakeries are as concerned as Noy.

 

Kendra Teasdale, spokesperson for Baker’s Delight, says $1 bread loaves are only having an impact on people who already buy their bread from supermarkets

 

“For example, a Tip Top buyer may now purchase a generic brand. However, we don’t expect this to have an impact on bread buyers who purchase their bread from Bakers Delight,” she says.

 

In addition to its bread prices, the supermarkets have come under fire for the amount of shelf space they devote to home brand products.

 

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has called on the Federal Government to appoint a Supermarket Ombudsman to address the issue.

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