Britain’s only organic gluten-free bakery is looking to expand into Europe in a bid to combat escalating costs caused by Brexit.
Ingrid Eissfeldt, director of Kent-based Artisan Bread Organic, which employs 10 people and supplies Planet Organic and Whole Foods, told British Baker the cost of ingredients had jumped by 5% due to the falling value of the pound on the back of EU referendum vote.
Now the bakery owner plans to begin exporting baked goods with a longer shelf-life to European countries, starting with her native Germany via a new direct-to-consumer website, which she intends to launch by November.
It is hoped the move will generate income that will enable the bakery to continue importing ingredients needed for its existing products without passing the increased costs on to UK consumers.
“I think our only salvation is to start selling in Europe,” she declared. “We were toying with the idea pre-Brexit, now we have to do it. We can’t wait for the pound to get lower and lower. It’s really hard when you have an expensive product. Our margins are tiny. We have to calculate really hard, it’s so critical because people won’t pay over the odds.”
Eissfeldt claimed the ingredients used in the production of the bakery’s bread were roughly 17 times the price of wheat or starch. The expectation that bread should be cheap in the UK also posed challenges - customers would not necessarily tolerate a 50p rise on a loaf that already costs between £4.70 and £4.95, she said.
“There are lots of special diets out there that nobody caters for,” Eissfeldt insisted. “We’ve made it our business to understand peoples’ special diets. The consumer knows exactly what they want.”
The bakery founder described the option of sending parcels to Europe via delivery service DPD for between £6 and £8 as the ‘silver lining’ that would help take the business in a new direction.
Established 16 years ago, the bakery turned 100% gluten-free in 2014.
According to Eissfeldt, who is now seeking funding for a new oven and packing line to help the business expand, the bakery does not use ‘cheap fillers’ like potato or corn starch, xanthan gum or methylcellulose, which are commonly found in gluten-free baking and makes everything by hand.
“We’re going to start very small and gradually build,” Eissfeldt said about the European expansion. “We’ll start off with a small range with a longer shelf-life. When we know how it works, we’ll start introducing some fresh things to test the water.”