With news of a global food crises and the price of basic food commodities hitting a 30-year high, Missoula bakers are feeling the heat.
Bagels On Broadway owner Sue Thompson says her business is caught in a perfect storm. The price of flour has tripled, petroleum-based commodities have doubled, costs to deliver her flour from Spokane are rising with fuel prices, and the onset of a new minimum wage increase has her caught in a cost crisis.
“That’s why I call it the Bermuda Triangle,” Thompson says. “The profits are down exponentially.”
The bakery has tried introducing new items to stimulate sales, which have yet to reveal any effect. Thompson, however, is confident that customer loyalty will prevail and keep her 15-year old bagel shop steady.
“Thank God this isn’t our first year of business,” Thompson says.
Christine Littig, who owns Bernice’s Bakery with her husband, Marco, says she has had to raise prices of most of their baked goods, and scrap altogether whatever was not selling enough to justify flour costs. That means no more turnovers and coffee cake.
Streamlining their products is something she’s been meaning to do for a long time and the stifling economy has just forced her hand.
“There was always a fear factor around too much change,” Littig says.
Bob Marshall, owner and chef of Biga Pizza, says the last thing he wants to do is pass off the rising costs to his customers; he would rather make it up in volume. Marshall also believes he’ll be able to avoid any lasting effects by continuing to buy flour and other organic products strictly from local entities, thereby avoiding increases due to rising fuel prices.
“The closer your food source is,” he says, “the less expensive it’s going to be.”