Bread prices rising faster than the CPI
The price of bread has been rising faster than the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Industry argues this has been caused by steep rises in commodity prices, particularly for wheat and oil. They also claim Asian countries are demanding more wheat-based food products and grain-fed meat. They cite production of biofuel from grain increasing by 25% since 2000, putting further pressure on world prices for wheat.
In reality, however, the bread industry (like our supermarkets) is dominated by a duopoly. You may see many brands, but at least two-thirds of all our bread comes from two big corporations – George Weston Foods (owner of Abbott’s Village Bakery, Bürgen and Tip Top) and Goodman Fielder (Country Life, Helga’s, Molenberg and Lawson’s brands). George Weston Foods told CHOICE it hadn’t increased wholesale prices since July 2008, and only then by an average of 4.6%, while Goodman Fielder told us the price of wheat has levelled in the last six months, resulting in price reductions. Nonetheless, since CHOICE last reported on bread in 2006, the price of some brands has increased by more than 30%.
The cheapest multigrain breads are the supermarkets’ own brands, but they don’t rate as well for flavour or texture as the more expensive brands. They’re also nutritionally poorer as the major ingredient is refined white flour, so they contain significantly less dietary fibre and wholegrains.