viewpoint

12 October, 2007
Page 10 
Have you put your prices up yet? Whether you are a baker, confectioner or ingredients supplier, I hope you have crunched the numbers and worked out the necessary increases. Otherwise, I fear for your survival.
Greggs has not shied away from adding 4.5% - and that is after a lot of bulk buying ahead of the increases (pg 6). Many supermarkets have added upwards of 10p on a loaf and one major ingredients supplier told me this week that the increases in rapeseed oil and flour alone would have already put his profits into deficit had he not succeeded in personally explaining the strategy for his increases to the supermarkets.Do you remember the days when a tonne of flour rose £10 in a year? Now it does that in 24 hours! It may be a good time for cereal farmers, but it's extremely challenging for everyone else.My home-delivered milk has just gone up by 4p a pint. Normally I get a cursory note explaining the penny increase. This time I have a full written explanation of world shortages and world prices, so I accept the 4p rise. I want the milk company to survive. And I will only have 'choice' if it does.Meanwhile, high street survival is something that has been of great interest to BakeMark, which recently commissioned a survey looking at typical customer base and spend in bakers' shops, and how these could be improved (pg 4).Among the suggestions are 'meal deals' (very popular at supermarkets, so I can see they might be a draw), while other customers are certainly willing to pay more premium prices for a really fresh premium product. But the bad news in my local paper this week is that in the run-down area of West Croydon, a well-known high street baker has had to employ security guards in two of its shops. A staff member said this was necessary in order to "stop schoolkids grabbing things and running out again". She added: "Some people would fill up whole bags!"It's a sad state of affairs when so many parents and teachers are too afraid, too lazy or too ignorant to discipline their kids. That should be a far bigger and more urgent priority for politicians and the media than perpetually twiddling with taxes and being obsessed with celebrity.



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