There was a slight drop in bread consumption in Latvia last year, according to Latvian Bakers’ Association board chairman Karlis Zemess.
He says the bread market is not stable and that it has a tendency to decline due to the reducing bread consumption, which in turn is caused by the ongoing population decline, promotion of a healthy lifestyle and the new generation’s eating habit change, as well as the fast life rhythm. Rye bread consumption is more stable, but overall bread consumption has a tendency to drop.
Zemess admits bread prices have risen a bit since the end of last year, which is largely due to the increase of prices on baking flour. He did not say how much prices had increased for bread products. At the same time, he allowed for bread prices to stop growing this year. Competition is what will keep prices relatively stable.
He adds that bakers are also influenced by increased electricity and gas prices, as well as wage increase. With the shortage of laborers the competition for capable specialists increases, which means increasing wages to keep people from leaving.
According to Zemess, competition is currently rather high on the bread market because Latvia has three large procurers as well as a number of niche product manufacturers, which amount to steep competition. On top of that, there are many home producers in Latvia, making the market very saturated. Bread is also produced by supermarkets and other store networks. However, in spite of steep competition, none of the active bread producers in Latvia had closed down last year.
LMB board chairman also says that one of the goals for 2019 is promoting rye bread and educating the growing generation about rye bread to preserve its eating and production traditions. The industry also intends to continue its campaign for growing rye in order to produce high-quality rye flour with a great taste. Several other projects are also planned for specialist training and contests.
Zemess says this year’s main challenge is keeping bread consumption on the current level and preventing rapid changes, which would only increase competition. (BNN/Business World Magazine)