“Many retirees only receive yesterday's bread,” says Katharina Knopf, a bakery employee in Stuttgart. And she points to a basket next to the cash register. Contains muffins, flatbreads, baguettes and other baked goods. They are products from the previous day. The bread is already sliced. “It sells better that way.”

Households can save up to 60 percent compared to fresh bread. A pumpkin seed bread no longer costs 5.90 euros, but in the special display it costs 2.30 euros. But no one complains about the high prices anymore. “A year ago it was different. “You get used to it,” says Katharina Knopf.

Day-old bread seems to be a big issue for consumers. FOCUS contacted more than ten bakeries throughout Germany online. Almost all companies reported that day-old bread had been selling particularly well for months. “It's not just about the price, but also about the desire to do something for the environment,” says a bakery in Aalen. “It's about fighting against the throwaway mentality,” says Tobias Kröber, director of a bakery in Koblenz, who now also runs a special branch with day-old bread. “We didn't throw anything away.”

Stores like this one, with yesterday's bread, are popping up like mushrooms. From Tuesday to Friday you can get bread there for a few euros. “The demand is there,” says an employee at one of these stores in Munich. “Many people can no longer afford fresh bread.” The interesting thing is that not only pensioners take advantage of this offer.

Not only pensioners receive yesterday's bread

At a Zöttl branch in Munich, for example, the affordable offering attracts people of all ages. Many are embarrassed to publicly admit that they trust these types of offers. They reject a photo. “I'm here because I can't accept paying more than seven euros for a loaf of bread,” says one woman. She is a single mother. She doesn't want the bread from the discount store. “I work for my money and at least I want to be able to afford a good life.”

Apparently, the companies do not make sales, as the bakers' unions unanimously explain. “For branches like this, the profits don't have to be large, but they have to at least be zero,” says Stefan Körber of the Southwestern Bakers' Guild Association. And: “This only works with enough walk-in customers in cities, but not in rural areas.”

The concept of these special stores? Bread is sold from Tuesday to Friday. Individual shops bring unsold baked goods there. The opening hours are short; As soon as the bread runs out, the store closes. The shops are also sparsely furnished. Often there is only one counter and cash payment. Bread and rolls are generally weighed. There are also surprise packages for four euros, which include rolls as well as sweets and pastries from the previous day.

Bread prices will not fall, the price spiral continues

Numerous crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine affect bakeries. Rising raw material, energy and labor costs, as well as customer reluctance due to inflation, are causing a high financial burden. “We don't raise prices for fun,” master baker and bread sommelier Tobias Exner said at the beginning of the year. “We cannot cover our costs at this time.”

The prices of bread and buns in German bakeries have been rising for two years now. Grain prices skyrocketed shortly after the war in Ukraine. The wheat contract at Matif in Paris has now risen to 360 euros per ton. The price currently is 199 euros. If prices in commercial markets go down, shouldn't the prices of bread and rolls also go down? Not necessarily.

Flour is the most important raw material for their products, says master baker Sebastian Brücklmaier. But flour and other raw materials only account for about 20 percent of his business costs. The central association of the German baking sector also confirms that personnel is the most important cost factor, between 40 and 50 percent. Materials and raw materials represent between 18 and 25 percent.

Prices for bakery products in the German bakery trade are unlikely to fall. This is not only due to the increase in the minimum wage, which has a direct impact on staff costs, but also to the increase in energy costs incurred for baking, as well as for heating business premises and providing hot water. Many companies have long-term contracts with energy suppliers. These contracts are now expiring.

For bakeries this means a significant increase in costs, also due to the CO2 tax. Additionally, increases in raw material and ingredient prices, climate changes and geopolitical tensions causing fluctuations in global markets are driving up production costs. For example, prices for vanilla extract, cocoa and peanuts have increased significantly.

Logistics and transportation costs are also affected, as both the delivery of ingredients and the distribution of finished products have become more expensive, due, among other things, to rising fuel prices and stricter environmental standards.

This is how much a baker earns with a piece of rye bread

The average sales price of rye bread is 4.60 euros. These are now:

  • €2.15 or rounded to 48 percent for staff.
  • 68 cents or 14.8 percent of the sales price goes to ingredients (flour, salt, butter).
  • 65 cents or 14.1 percent of the value of the assets for rent and energy.
  • 31 cents or 6.7 percent of the price of bread is spent on depreciation of baking equipment and utensils.
  • 30 cents is VAT (4.30 net plus seven percent VAT).
  • 30 cents or 6.5 percent also goes towards repairs, packaging, vehicle costs, interest, insurance and marketing.
  • 21 cents or 4.6 percent is spent on other operating expenses, including provisions.

In the end there are 0.00 euros left. Reinhard Bauer, a baker from Cologne, also confirms this: bakeries barely make any money on a loaf of bread. There is much more margin on muffins, pretzels and pies. Hot drinks such as coffee or tea also generate income. However, companies make little money from the bakery business.

A lot of work for little money? This is also the reason why bakers' guilds see this trade in danger.

Failed to fetch data from the URL.