Minister for Commerce Emma Hippolyte has hinted at an anticipated increase in the price of bread on the local market.
On Monday, the minister reported that since 2021, the Ministry of Commerce has been in discussion with the Bakers Association.
Hippolyte said that while the public has been attuned to the aspect of controlled and uncontrolled bread, the latest development is to ensure that local bakers make a profit. The minister identified controlled bread – as white creole bread and pan loaf and uncontrolled bread as rolls, hamburgers, hotdog loaves and specialty loaves.
“The government considered the appeal of the bakers association and commissioned a review of the sector, so please note that even before the proposal from the association the price of flour to bakers was already being subsidized,” Hippolyte told reporters.
Amidst the rising cost of living brought about by the pandemic and other global trading and shipping issues, she said, the public has been constantly informed that not only the cost of flour, but also various other ingredients that go into baking bread has seen an increase in prices.
Hippolyte said the ministry has completed negotiations with the bakers, while adding that, “I want to remind us that especially for the controlled bread the last increase the bakers got was in 2008, so now 14 years later we have agreed to give them an increase in the price.”
Meanwhile, the bakers will pay $85.00 for a bag of flour; as government subsidizes the cost by paying $144.00 per bag of flour, and selling to the bakers at $85.00 for the white flour and $90.00 for the whole wheat flour.
Subsequently, effective 1st January, 2023 there will be new prices for bread, as follows:
Creole bread will increase from 35 cents to 45 cents; pan loaf from $3.60 to $4.35, and large pan loaves from $5.40 to $6.50.
President of the Bakers Association Incorporated (BAI), Anthony Bousquet said that since the BAI’s formation in 2019, the association has provided consultation to the government on the issue of bread prices and its by-products.
He informed that there are about 70 bakers on island, employing about 400 workers, with women forming about half of the workforce.
Bousuqet disclosed that Saint Lucia imports about $70 million of baking products annually.
He said despite the government’s subsidy on flour, it could not make it for over a decade without an increase. There was a 25% increase in bread in 2008, after 14 years, Bousquet explained.
Consequently, after consultation with government, the BAI agreed upon a 20% increase in the price of bread.
Bousquet stated that though the price increase does not necessarily fully offset the expenses borne by the bakers, the fact that the authorities decide “to bite the bullet…the subsidy regime in Saint Lucia has allowed us to keep the prices under control.”
He added, “We will continue to monitor the situation closely, and hope that our economy and the world does not experience further shocks.