Future of small bakeries in doubt because of bread glut

Old Fernvale Bakery owner Bill Rose.
Old Fernvale Bakery owner Bill Rose. File

A GLUT of low-price bread is putting the future of small businesses around the district in jeopardy - that's the warning from leading baker Bill Rose.

Mr Rose, who runs the popular Old Fernvale Bakery, said the recent war between Coles and Woolworths around the price of bread was likely to take its toll on local bakers.

"The use of bread as a 'loss leader' is not a new idea, retailers have been doing it since the 1960s," Mr Rose said.

"But it is threatening the future of 8000-10,000 small bakeries around the country, due to this price war between two major retailers."

Mr Rose also raised a question about an ingredient in the bread, which allows it to have a longer shelf life than more expensive bread.

"In the days after the campaign launch, our bread sales were down approximately 30% on normal," he said.

With up to 32 local staff employed in the business on any given day, Mr Rose said he was worried about the 'flow-on' effect if he was forced to reduce staff.

"It does jeopardise local jobs, and our ability to support community events," he said.

Mr Rose said losing local bakers would be devastating to the region.

He said customer support had been 'wonderful', and sales of his locally baked bread had returned to previously high levels, with "total sellouts" during the last week.

"Our staff are very proud to work here; they are all outstanding bakers, they are keen to see this business be successful and not fade away."

Mr Rose said while there were centralised associations for bakers at a state and national level, they were more focused on human resources' advice than providing support in the areas of marketing and industry promotion.

"It is a monstrous frustration that no centralised marketing exists for independent bakers," he said.

"They need to join together to establish buying power that allows them to tackle major retailers on a level playing field."

Topics:  bread coles fernvale old fernvale bakery woolworths

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