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THERE is only so much that can be done to mitigate the effect of inflation on bread, said Royce Gerik Chua, Vice-President of Eng Bee Tin and President of the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association, Inc. (FCBAI). Basically they are limited to shrinking a product or raising prices, but even the latter is problematic.
Mr. Chua spoke to BusinessWorld at the sidelines of a press conference announcing the FCBAI’s holding its first live Bakery Fair since the pandemic started, on March 2 to 4 at the World Trade Center.
The fair is held every two years for reasons of practicality. Mr. Chua told BusinessWorld during the Quezon City press conference on Monday that, “‘Pag every year, hindi naman ganoon kabilis iyong updates ng technology. Wala rin kaming isho-showcase (If we hold it every year, the updates to the technology aren’t that fast. We’ll have nothing to showcase).”
The fair will have 137 exhibitors by his count, covering 10,000 sqm. of the World Trade Center in Pasay City. There, visitors will find bread (of course), ingredients, machines, and free seminars. Some of these seminars are about uses for raisins, sugar-free baked goods, and pastry trends. One can access all these for an entrance fee of P100, and one can pre-register at bakeryfair.ph.
Some FCBAI members include large companies behind the brands Gardenia, Sari Monde, Monde Nissin, Uncle George, Liberty Foodmart, Bakers’ Fair, Goldilocks, and French Baker.
DEALING WITH INFLATIONThe FCBAI Bakery Fair comes at a time when businesses are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a new problem of global inflation.
The association was able to help businesses during the pandemic by holding seminars and updates with business instructors and gurus — it also held an online fair in place of the usually physical Bakery Fair. “We still had to give valuable information on how you can make your company survive during the pandemic,” said Mr. Chua.
Inflation, though, is another story.
Inflation quickened to 8.7% in January from the 8.1% in December, “marking the highest in 14 years or since the 9.1% in November 2008,” noted a story on BusinessWorld (https://www.bworldonline.com/top-stories/2023/02/15/504872/inflation-may-remain-high-until-q3/). The same story reports that ANZ Research forecasts a peak in headline inflation in February or March.
On his end, Mr. Chua says that the general prices of products used in baking have increased by 20%, with eggs and sugar increasing by 100%.
They don’t have much power when it comes to mitigating inflation, he said, this despite their members providing a staple food: bread. “Sa inflation, medyo wala naman kaming magagawa eh (On inflation, there’s nothing much we can do). Everything has been going up. All the prices of our ingredients.”
The baking businesses among their members are adjusting to inflation in different ways, Mr. Chua told BusinessWorld. “Different from company to company. Iyong iba, nagliliit ng products; iyong iba, nagtataas ng presyo (Some shrink their products; others increase their prices),” he said.
“I can only speak on behalf of my company, Eng Bee Tin. We would not compromise our quality. Instead of shrinking our portions, or reducing our ingredients, or using inferior ingredients, we would rather just add to our price a little bit,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino. “Kilala kami for quality and innovation. Tapos papangit iyong quality? Pangit naman (We’re known for quality and innovation. And then our product won’t be as nice? That’s not nice).”“Hindi naman kami puwedeng magtaas ng ganoon eh (we can’t raise our prices like that),” he said, referring to keeping up with inflation. To provide a fix, they have been studying and introducing new techniques and recipes that use, for example, less eggs or less butter. “Mapapababa niyan iyong presyo (that can bring down costs) while keeping the quality.”
The Bakery Fair 2023 will be held on March 2, 3, and 4, at the World Trade Center. Visit the websites, bakeryfair.ph, fcbai.com.ph, or e-mail email@example.com for more information. — JL Garcia