Fears of rising baguette prices pose crunch for the French Part 2

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. venerable / ˈvɛn ər ə bəl / (adj.) – well-respected or recognized because of old age or wisdom

    Mr. Davis has been with the university for more than 30 years. His coworkers and students consider him a venerable professor.

  2. loaf / loʊf / (n.) – a serving of bread that’s baked in a long rectangular or round shape

    I was so hungry that I finished one loaf of bread.

  3. a pain in the neck / ə peɪn ɪn ðə nɛk / (idiom) – something that’s annoying or inconvenient

    Long lines at the supermarket are a pain in the neck, especially when you’re in a hurry.

  4. quintessential / ˌkwɪn təˈsɛn ʃəl / (adj.) – being the most usual example of something

    Sushi is a quintessential Japanese food.

  5. sacrifice / ˈsæk rəˌfaɪs / (v.) – to give up something for another thing that’s more important

    When the company was struggling, the CEO sacrificed almost half of his salary so that other employees could receive pay.


Read the text below.

Continued from Part 1…

France’s 67 million people are voracious consumers of the baguette. The country’s “Bread Observatory” — a venerable institution that closely follows the fortunes of the famed 65-centimeter loaf — notes that the French munch through 320 baguettes every second. That’s an average of half a baguette per person per day, or 10 billion every year for the whole country.

“Even 3 centimes higher is dire when played out nationwide,” Anract said. “The baguette is our emblem, our symbol, the thermometer of our economy. It’s perhaps like Britain’s pint of milk. It can never go beyond €1 (¥128).”

Marc Cohen, a 35-year-old father of two, said outside his local bakery in the Le Marais area of central Paris that rising baguette prices “would be a pain in the neck. Costs are going up everywhere. Even 5 centimes is a lot because we get one every day. That adds up over the year, and next year it will probably be the same.”

Calling it “depressing news,” 43-year-old engineer Franck Nguyen said “the baguette is an institution in France. If the price goes up by too much, there will be big opposition.”

Although the baguette seems like the quintessential French product, it was said to have been invented by Vienna-born baker August Zang in 1839. Zang put in place France’s steam oven, making it possible to produce bread with a brittle crust yet fluffy interior.

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot has even nominated the baguette for a place on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List next year.

Baguettes are such serious business that bread observers say French bakers are willing to sacrifice other bread products to maintain the price of the baguette, by spreading around extra costs. (AP)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Some French bakers are willing to sacrifice other products just to maintain the price of the baguette, usually by spreading around extra costs. Do you think this is a good practice? Do you agree that the price of staple food like the baguette should never increase? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What product are you still willing to buy even if it increases in price? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Anract said that the baguette is France’s national symbol. What food in your country do you consider the national symbol? Why? Discuss.
  • An Austrian invented one of France’s most iconic foods. What food in your country has a foreign origin (ex. gyoza, ramen)? Do you know how it reached your country? Discuss.