Giving bakers a fighting chance as the flour price continues to soar

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Giving bakers a fighting chance as the flour price continues to soar

Related tags Iff Flour Wheat prices Russia-Ukraine conflict Inflation Bakers

The runaway flour price – caused by the atrocious weather in North American wheat-growing areas in 2021, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising fuel costs – is expected to have a long-lasting impact on the bakery industry – meaning bakers need to look beyond short-term savings to stay afloat.

The impact of the adverse weather in North America on the harvest meant wheat hit its highest price in nearly a decade, surpassing $8 a bushel. This led to a 20% price increase of the final product on shelves.

The price again spiked after Russia invaded Ukraine on 4 February, and once again after India announced a ban on wheat exports on 14 May – pushing it to $12.48 a bushel on 16 May.

The current price of wheat (as of 22 June 2022) is $9.7650 per bushel, but projected to average out around $10.75 per bushel for 2022/23.

Bakery affordability toolbox

According to IFF, the increased fuel costs, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the weather is forecast to not only impact this year’s wheat harvest, but also seeding for 2023 and even 2024. This means the flour price of flour is not expected to come down anytime soon.

This is where IFF has come to the fore, with a bakery affordability toolbox.

The toolbox defines four pillars for affordability: namely, Optimise me; Keep fresh for longer; Affordable premium; and Back to the kitchen.

IFF said each pillar is illustrated with concepts that can support its customers, depending on their needs.

For example, under Optimise me, the main challenge faced by bakers and other food manufacturers is the need to deliver cost-optimised solutions that offer consumers the same quality produced at the right price point. Here, IFF steps in with an affordability calculator to calculate cost savings with the customer’s unique recipe, focusing on three areas with the biggest potential for cost optimisation:

Optimisation of flour quality

(To secure the quality of bread while optimising flour cost)

IFF suggests options to reduce raw intake costs whilst still maintaining the functional qualities attributable to the normal expected flour output.

From baking trials conducted inhouse, IFF believes it can demonstrate the potential for annual cost savings of between 3% to 5% – in financial terms, around €250,000* – through the application of enzyme technology permitting the use of a lower grade of wheat or lower protein flour.

Gluten reduction & cost stability

(Less dependence to raw material price volatility)

Again, results from inhouse baking trials shows the potential for annual cost savings of 1% to 2% – from €40,000 to €180,000* – depending on the choice of ingredient solution that is selected.

Alternative emulsification solutions

(To allow to secure bread production while maintaining the finished product eating qualities)

IFF’s baking trials demonstrated the potential for annual cost savings of 1% to 2% – around €100,000* – through the application of enzyme technology permitting the reduction or removal of a typical, traditionally used bakery emulsifier.

*Based upon a bakery producer consuming 10,000 MT of flour annually, but obviously this value will change, according to each customers own situation.

BakeryandSnacks speaks to Emeline Commun, IFF Bakery marketing lead for Europe, and Andy Flounders, principal application specialist for IFF Bakery Europe, Middle East and Africa, to find out how bakers can get through these torrid times.

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