France Travel: The Cost Of Daily Bread Is Threatening The Baguette

The baguette is an icon of France but does it merit world heritage status?


When tourists think of French holidays, one of the first images that comes to mind would be the taste of a warm baguette from a village bakery.

Bread is obviously a serious business in France and the baguette synonymous with the French way of life. So much so, that in March 2021, France applied to have the baguette given UNESCO world heritage status, although it must wait until late 2022 for the decision.

And many bakers in France (as in other countries) are worried about the impact of the price of bread as a result of inflation and the Ukraine war. As all raw materials increase in price (and specifically the rise in the cost of flour), boulangeries across the country are dreading the idea of having to raise prices–in 2022, it is estimated that a loaf of bread, or baguette, is facing a rise of 30 centimes (about 33 cents) which is an increase of 13% compared to 2021.

As reported by Euronews, there are 320 baguettes eaten every second across France and a 2017 government report indicated that half the nation lives within 1.4 miles of a bakery, “as the crow flies” (in cities, this increases to 73% of people living within less than half a mile). And the time it takes for someone in France to get their daily bread is 5 minutes in a city (either on foot or by car) rising to 9 minutes in the country.

The Observatoire du Pain (the Bread Observatory) reported that France has 35,000 bakeries which serve 12 million customers every day. Which amounts to 6 billion baguettes every year, as reported by The Local.

What that means is that the French get through about half a baguette every day on average. Which makes bakers and consumers nervous. After all, as one baker put it “what is bread if not just flour, electricity, minimum wage and gas?”

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