In one of these shops, in Boulogne-Billancourt (Hauts-de-Seine), an affluent suburb to the west of Paris, the labels will however show prices rising by “5 to 10%, from 2023”. You will then have to pay 1.45 euros for a traditional organic baguette, compared to 1.40 today.

Two baguettes stuck under his arm, a customer of the bakery – who wished to remain anonymous – assures that he will come even if the prices increase.

“In the supermarket, you see products that have increased by two or even three euros… So five cents is not much,” said this man in his fifties.

For the boss of this trendy bakery, whose interior is adorned with a large wooden chandelier evoking the roots of a tree, the situation became “difficult to bear” several months ago.

With inflation, which rose sharply in the summer of 2021, before taking on new proportions from the start of the war in Ukraine in February, costs exploded and “margins melted”: wheat flour, yeast, sugar… “Everything has increased considerably”, laments Mr. Trotot.

Although it began to fall this summer, the price of wheat almost doubled between February and May due in particular to the fall in Ukrainian exports. “The millers have passed on part of the explosion in these costs to flour, which is much more expensive than before. And the jump is even stronger for organic products”, indicates Emmanuel Trotot.

As for the yeast, essential for making bread, “it’s not that it has doubled … It’s that it has tripled!” Plague Ahmed Hadana, manager of the Boulogne-Billancourt bakery, which says “waging a battle against its suppliers” to try to lower prices.

To these increases must be added those in the price of eggs or butter, which the bakery orders in large quantities to produce the pies, flans and various pastries that adorn the window.

– “A precarious balance” –

The energy bill for this business has also swelled by around “5 to 15%” in one year, which represents “several hundred euros” to pay more every month. The bakery should benefit from the aid announced by the government at the end of October in the face of soaring energy costs.

These measures include in particular an “electricity shock absorber”, which must come into force on January 1, and provides that the State takes charge of part of the 2023 bill for medium, small and very small businesses. “These aids solve a very small part of the problem”, regrets Emmanuel Trotot, believing that the “public authorities must also promote craftsmanship more”.

For an organic bakery, the problem posed by inflation seems insoluble: in normal times, prices are already higher there than elsewhere because of the cost of ingredients and the labor required to manufacture the products.

“We are very embarrassed because the main criticism that our customers make of us are the prices”, testifies Mr. Trotot. “We are already more expensive than our competitors”.

Is he afraid that they will recover part of his clientele? “Of course,” he breathes.

“The absolute tragedy in this crisis is that it pushes craftsmen into the arms of industrialists,” he adds. To save on their purchases from suppliers and “maintain a precarious balance”, they are increasingly turning to large groups capable of supplying them at lower cost but with “average” quality ingredients.

Emmanuel Trotot assures him, he will continue in any case to “bet on naturalness, with fresh and certified organic products”, counting on “consumer confidence”.