Bread prices rise 30%-plus as input costs force them higher

Households consuming two sliced pans a week set to spend €60 more over a year

The cost of some bread products in Irish supermarkets has jumped by more than 30 per cent over the last 12 months. Brexit and higher input costs, such as soaring energy prices and skyrocketing raw materials due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, have resulted in the price of the staple climbing by up to four times the rate of general inflation.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), released this week, put the rate of inflation at just over 9 per cent and suggested the overall price of bread – a product long considered the spark that ignited the French Revolution – had climbed by 16 per cent in the last 12 months. Certain sliced pans and soda breads commonly found in supermarkets have climbed by as much as 60 cent.

A price jump from €1.90 to about €2.50 would mean a household consuming just two sliced pans a week spending more than €60 a year more. Producers have warned that price hikes resulting from higher input costs are likely to remain in place for years.

Eoin Cluskey, the owner of Bread 41 on Dublin’s Pearse Street, said that while he had not seen increases on that scale, he had noticed a discrepancy in pricing when sourcing flour directly from Irish mills or from overseas with the help of third parties.


Butter pricing

“I buy local when I can and if I buy it direct I can pay anywhere between €1.06 to €1.50 per kg for flour, rising to maybe €2.25 if it is local spelt but as soon as I talk to a middle man who is importing it, the price rises to €3.80 or €3.90. I don’t see how something can cost four times the price when I don’t buy it directly from the supplier.”

He also questioned the pricing of butter in Ireland when compared to other EU countries.

“I can buy a 25kg box of organic butter and import it from France for €9.05 but it will cost me €13.60 if I buy it in Ireland. I understand that inflation is happening across the board but I can’t understand these discrepancies. And a lot of small business are at the mercy of the middle man who can charge whatever they want but I think in the long run Ireland has a growing number of wonderful millers and they are going to start talking directly to the bakers.”

One of the millers Cluskey references is Robert Mosse from Kilkenny. He is the managing director of Kells Wholemeal.

His family have been milling on the banks of the river Nore for seven generations but the cost-of-living crisis has presented a set of new challenges.

“You are getting it from all angles,” he said. “Our electricity bill is up around 86 per cent and the cost of wheat has gone up from €220 a tonne to €360 a tonne. Because it is a global commodity, it doesn’t matter if it is coming from the field next to you or from Australia, it is the same price. Sugar is up by 40 per cent.”

He said there was “no chance of the prices falling for the next two to three years because of the higher input costs. The costs for the suppliers are very real and I think most people are true and genuine. We supply around 350 bakeries and we have a good working relationship with them all and if you fall out with them or try to charge too high a price then they won’t deal with you again. We simply couldn’t afford to gouge anyone.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast