Why Is Bread So Expensive? (11 Reasons Why)

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Maisie Hughes

Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

Most homes and businesses consider bread a staple that they cannot do without. After all, bread mixed with the right ingredients can easily make a satisfying meal.

However, not all bread is affordable, and sometimes even the average bread loaf can suddenly cost more than usual. Why is bread so expensive? Here is what I found!

Why Is Bread So Expensive?

While not all bread is expensive, bread in all formats can experience a price surge when the cost of flour and other ingredients go up. Mainly, this happens when droughts, floods, fires, wars, and pandemics occur and crop yields drop. Bread has a short shelf life, and certain types of bread simply cost more to produce.

If you are interested in learning more about the different factors that affect the cost of bread and which types of bread tend to be more expensive than others, keep on reading!

1. Bread Can Be Made Using A Wide Variety Of Ingredients

Most kinds of bread have four main ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. Apart from flour, some ingredients can be swapped for alternatives like baking powder and milk.

Often, local bakeries and restaurants will set themselves apart from large-scale bread manufacturers by making these swaps or adding more ingredients to their bread.

So, depending on the specific ingredients and combinations used, certain bread will taste better than others and cost more.

2. Flour Prices Can Fluctuate

Setting aside the wide array of ingredients that can be used to make bread, flour alone can drive up the cost of bread regularly.

For example, if you live in a non-wheat-producing country or rely on imports for the majority of your grain supply, expect that flour prices will fluctuate for different reasons.

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Moreover, flour prices can vary per type. Instead of all-purpose flour, some bakeries use bread flour, self-rising flour, almond flour, and whole wheat flour.

3. Major Wheat Sources Can Have Shortages

Worldwide wheat production is spread across the globe, with major suppliers ranging from China and India to France and Ukraine.

Therefore, when any major wheat or grain-producing countries suffer from shortages or stop exporting for various reasons, bread prices go up.

4. Climate Change Can Cause Yields To Drop

Climate change has a significant impact on crops. All over the world, droughts, fires, floods, and other natural disasters can eliminate field after field of wheat, rye, and other grains.

Overnight, sources of flour and other much-needed ingredients for bread-making can become scarce, and scarcity is always a factor in increasing bread prices.

5. Bread Has A Short Shelf Life

Bread has a short shelf life, and this is especially true with freshly baked bread in local bakeries. Typically, room-temperature homemade bread can last for only four days.

Meanwhile, commercial bread can last for up to seven days at room temperature, and refrigeration will only extend the bread’s life for three to five days.

So, when goods like bread go bad quickly, production has to be incessant to meet demands.

That said, this incurs more costs, which manufacturers compensate through higher bread prices.

6. Bread Costs A Lot To Ship

6. Bread Costs A Lot To Ship

Countries like India and Canada export a lot of bread, and the exporting process itself can be quite costly.

Additionally, bread is a delicate commodity, and shipping containers cannot be filled with enough bread to compensate for the shipping cost.

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Therefore, if the price of the bread does not suffice to cover the shipping fees, it would hardly be profitable to continue shipping the bread.

7. Bread Comes In Varieties

Bread comes in more than two dozen varieties, and some types of bread are just more expensive than others.

That said, this could be because of the ingredients used or the skills required to make a certain type of bread. Naturally, where labor is involved, there are salaries to be covered.

Further, specialty bread like Roquefort and Almond sourdough, Miche, and Shepherd’s Loaf require technique and expensive ingredients to make, hence justifying their price tags.

8. Bread Suppliers Could Be Suffering From Labor Shortage

Even with all the machinery that makes bread production possible on an industrial scale, manufacturers still require many laborers to keep their operations going.

However, labor shortages can happen due to varying circumstances like economic turmoil or global pandemics.

Moreover, when operations stagger or halt completely, demands for bread can outpace the supply, and price hikes are likely to occur.

9. Oil Prices Can Affect The Distribution Cost Of Bread

Oil prices affect everything, and bread is not excluded from that. Unfortunately, oil prices fluctuate regularly depending on national and international affairs.

As a result of oil prices going up, everything from the cost of operating machines, transporting workers, and distributing products will go up as well.

Therefore, increasing the cost of bread is an automatic response to avoid losses and keep operations going.

10. Brand Name Influences The Cost Of Bread

You will notice that two bread loaves with the same net weight and ingredients can have different prices. Generally, this is because of branding.

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For example, companies that have developed brand names that are more popular or trusted by consumers can demand a higher cost for their goods.

Also, while some brands can justify their prices based on the quality of their bread, some brands simply take advantage of their name recall.

Regardless, brands will influence bread prices.

11. Higher Quality Bread Comes At A Higher Cost

For many people and cultures, bread-making is an art form that must not be taken lightly. As such, a lot of time and effort goes into making high-quality bread that patrons can enjoy.

So, when you come across the pricier bread in the market, you can look forward to flavors and textures that vary greatly from bread on the cheaper end of the spectrum.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on why pomegranates are so expensive, why wasabi is so expensive, and why vanilla extract is so expensive.

Conclusion

Bread is one of the most common commodities in the world, and at any time, the cost of bread can go fluctuate without warning.

That said, usual causes for price fluctuations include climate change, oil prices, higher demands, and scarcity of ingredients.

Moreover, there are varieties of bread that simply cost more than others because they take more ingredients and skill to make.

Author

  • Maisie Hughes is a 20-year veteran of the culinary world. She has worked as a chef in some of the most prestigious restaurants in the country, and she currently volunteers her time at local food banks.

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