The Isle of Man’s Office of Fair Trading is investigating whether the £6m indigenous baking industry could be under threat from cheap imported bread.
An allegation that cut-price bread was being "dumped" on the Isle of Man was discussed last week at the House of Keys, the lower house in the island’s Parliament. "Dumping" is a form of predatory pricing, where products are sold at very low prices, with the aim of driving competitors out of the market.
The complaint was made by Jim Duncan, MD of the island’s major plant bakery Ramsey Bakery. He told British Baker: "I made a complaint about a month ago that imported own-label 800g white loaves were being sold for 55p by one of the retailers on the island. That price can’t possibly carry any margin - the freight alone on a loaf of that size costs 20p."
Last week, the House of Keys heard that cheap imports could jeopardise the jobs of 14 milling wheat growers in the Island, the eight employees at the state-owned Laxey Glen Mills and some 100 employed at the island’s bakeries, particularly Ramsey Bakery. Laxey Glen Mill supplies 85% of its output to Ramsey bakery and all its wheat is grown on the island.
Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne told the House of the Keys that his department took "very seriously" concerns that a flood of very cheap imports was threatening the island’s homegrown industry. The island’s Office of Fair Trading said in a statement that it "has asked for initial enquiries to be made to gather basic facts so that it can determine whether there is any substance to the allegation before deciding if action is merited."
Colin Brown, chairman of Laxey Glen Mill told British Baker: "It’s full of tension here as we are quite proud of the fact that we are completely self-sufficient in terms of bread production."