Fears of rising baguette prices pose crunch for the French Part 1

Category : Business

Unlocking Word Meanings

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

  1. hike / haɪk / (n.) – an increase in cost or amount

    The government announced that there will be a hike in oil prices next week. A liter of diesel will go up from ¥140 to ¥150.

  2. barometer / bəˈrɒm ɪ tər / (n.) – something that’s used to show or predict changes in a certain situation

    Surveys are often used as a barometer for public opinion.

  3. staple / ˈsteɪ pəl / (n.) – something that’s considered basic, needed, and important

    Rice is a staple in most Asian meals.

  4. feel the heat of (something) / fil ðə hit əv / (idiom) – to start to feel the effect of something

    The country is feeling the heat of the lockdowns. A lot of businesses are closing down.

  5. vulnerable / ˈvʌl nər ə bəl / (adj.) – easily harmed, hurt, or influenced

    Homeless people are the most vulnerable during typhoons.


Read the text below.

A hike in the cost of wheat is alarming French households, which fear a possible rise in the price of the prized baguette, seen by many as a barometer of the country’s economic health.

Many boulangeries around France are putting up signs, warning customers that the long, crunchy staple could be going up in price by 3 to 5 centimes (¥4 to ¥6) from its average of about 89 centimes (¥100).

“Although that might not seem like a lot, it’s a huge increase. The baguette is precious. It has only gone up 23 centimes (¥25) in the last 20 years,” said Dominique Anract, president of the French Confederation of Bakeries and Pastry Shops.

The bread industry crunch has been linked to a 30% worldwide increase since September in the price of wheat — one of the baguette’s key ingredients — after bad harvests in Russia, Anract said. Rising energy prices that are making ovens more expensive to operate are also a factor, Anract and other experts say, with businesses and consumers worldwide already feeling the heat of higher prices from supply chain and labor constraints.

Energy prices are affecting the Italian food chain, too, with expectations they will push up the cost of drying grains. That could eventually raise the price of bread and pasta at supermarkets, but meat and dairy aisles are even more vulnerable as beef and dairy farmers are forced to pay more for grain to feed their animals and pass the cost along to customers. (AP)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • France considers the price of the baguette as a barometer of economic health. What product in your country should be considered a similar barometer (ex. rice, meat)? Why? Discuss.
  • What do you think are other indicators of good economic health (ex. low unemployment rate, rise of new businesses in the country)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • A hike in the cost of wheat could lead to a possible rise in the price of the baguette, while energy prices could increase the cost of drying grains. In your country, what kind of products increase in price a lot? Why do you think this is so? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, what’s a good reason to increase the price of a product (ex. high demand, low supply)? Discuss.
Category : Business