The price of bread is making the headlines in Gonzi’s Malta and Sarkozy’s France. Both the hobza and the baguette are succumbing to market forces and the increase in price of flour. Even Nursultan Nazarbaev’s (or Borat’s?) Kazakhstan has recently witnessed a 12% hike in prices for this basic food item. Truth is that European prices for flour are on the rise and the taxpayer will suffer the consequences come what may. The choice is between greater subsidies for the bakers (and thus keeping the price stable) or an increase in the price of your daily loaf. The difference lies between a burden on the public purse or a direct charge on the taxpayers’ daily expenses. In both cases the same persons will be forking out the dosh.
It is interesting to note that since the price hike in Malta is of 1 maltese cent per loaf (whether half or full loaf), Maltastar prefers to point out the price hike in percentages. 8.3% increase for the half loaf is obviously given prime importance in the articles since 5% for the full loaf doesn’t sound half as bad. The rise is practically the same in France (5%-7%) and the Marie-Antoinette quip “Let them eat cake!” is doing the rounds of the media – ready to pounce on any possibility to attack Sarko’s fledgeling government.
National governments have little responsibility in this world price issue. The droughts around the world have forced wheat prices to rise to their highest point in ten years. If anything this could be another stimulus to tackle global warming since the effects of the droughts are felt worldwide from the UK to Azerbaijan.
On a different note there are a group of people (or as a sociologist might say, a social stratus) that are gleefully rubbing their hands at this interesting turn of events. Condemned by mother nature to avoid gluten-containing products – all of which are wheat flour based – coeliacs worldwide are forced to pay abominable prices for adequate subsitutes based on corn, buckwheat or potato flour. it is a long shot to hope for a switch in habits by the rest of the population – a move that would surely lower prices of gluten-free goods. But maybe now it is time for the revenge of the coeliacs!
Let them eat gluten free I say!