The price of traditional Maltese bread is set to increase by between 5c and 10c because of yet another increase in the price of flour.

Bakers’ Cooperative president Ray Briffa said that bakers had “no option” but to put prices up because they could not continue to absorb many cost increases they have witnessed in recent months.

The price of a sack of flour, he said, increased €2 about a month ago and is expected to go up a further €2 next week for a 50 kilogram sack, out of which bakers produced between 95 and 100 large loaves.

Grain and cereal prices have been rising internationally, mainly because of a prolonged drought in the US and other major grain and cereals producing countries, as well as increasing demand from China.

The price of Light Heating Oil and gas, used to operate bakers’ large ovens, also increased, as did diesel and labour costs. While a large bakery could afford to absorb the increase because of higher production levels, smaller bakeries did not have this luxury and had to pass on the cost to consumers.

Mr Briffa could not say from when bakeries will increase the cost of their bread. Since the sector has now been liberalised, it is up to each baker to “do his homework” and work out his costs. “As a cooperative, the only thing we can do is meet to discuss our problems and share our difficulties.

“We cannot decide on a price increase because that is price fixing. Every baker has to work out his costs and decide whether to increase his price and by how much.

“We are competing with each other, so two bakeries in the same road have to be careful with their prices.

“But at the end of the day we all need to cover our costs. I appeal to consumers to understand our position. We cannot continue shouldering these price increases ad eternum,” he said.

Mr Briffa said bakers were also suffering due to stiff competition by imported bread and foreign frozen bread, which is heated in Malta and sold in supermarkets.

A large loaf can be purchased for between 65c and 70c, which could increase to 80c for a large loaf and 60c for a small loaf if the full 10c increase is added.

The increase in the price of bread coincides with a 4c increase in the price of a carton of milk.

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