Bread wars

The two major supermarket chains are battling each other with $1 loaves of bread.  Queue the whiners…

One-dollar loaves of bread are flying off the shelves in the millions – but a bakers’ union says Kiwis’ love of a cheap deal could put jobs at risk.

Fierce competition between the country’s two main supermarket owners saw the price of bread drop to just $1 earlier this year.

As supermarkets indicate such pricing will continue, the Bakers and Pastrycooks’ Union has sounded the alarm about an industry “under siege”.

Secretary Norm Holley told the Herald that brands in the middle-to-upper price bracket were not selling as a result of the $1 deals.

As a result the country’s two biggest bakers had been cornered into a position where jobs could eventually be lost, he said.

However, Countdown says its $1 Homebrand breads are here to stay “for as long as possible”, and price drops on other brands have increased bread sales overall.

Mr Holley represents about 350-400 workers at the North Island bread plants of Goodman Fielder and George Weston Foods (Tip Top bakeries).

The two competitors are by far the biggest suppliers and between them produce dozens of bread brands as well as the $1 brands such as Budget and Homebrand.

As a rule of thumb, when a union complains, something good is going on.  

In this case, there isn’t actually a reduction in bread being produced.  In fact, the reverse is happening:  people are eating more bread because it is cheap.

So what we really have here is a union whining about some companies facing job cuts because their loaves are too expensive, while the company that produces the cheaper loaves are going gang busters.

And the Union wants to put a stop to that.  They want, somehow, to protect the workers are a company that is selling less desirable bread.

Asked why the two big bakeries supplied the cheap bread if it was so detrimental to business, Mr Holley said supermarkets were big customers.

“Each [company] is looking at the other one and thinking, if we don’t supply … you’re going to get all the bread [sales in supermarkets].”

However, Countdown spokeswoman Kate Porter said it had worked closely with Goodman Fielder to put together the $1 Homebrand white and wheatmeal bread deal.

“We’ve sold over five million loaves at this new price and customers really like this better value.”

Ms Porter said prices on Freyas, Tip Top, Signature Range and in-store baked breads had dropped, which had “reinvigorated interest in bread” and increased overall sales.

Countdown, which is owned by Progressive Enterprises, said its $1 bread was not a “loss leader” but a new everyday price.

If we were to compare this to some other product, let’s say wine, then we would have producers that sell bottles at $30 each complaining about supermarkets selling bottles at $4.99 and then wanting something done about it.

The answer is not the union way.  The answer is for the more expensive brands to start justifying the value in their breads.  $3.90 a loaf versus $1.00.  Where does the other $2.90 go?  If it goes into the bread factory’s bank account, then I don’t think consumers are going to care.  But if it goes into their Low GI, high in fiber, extra healthy diet, then people will put money towards it.

Doesn’t stop union stooges from wanting price controls on bread mind you.  These are the same people that are backing the Labour party.  State interference in everything.

If it was up to them, there would probably one state sanctioned loaf of bread at a set price that everyone has to pay while the bakers are on $90,000 a year with 8 weeks annual leave.

How far does your loyalty to a particular load of bread go?  At $1 a loaf, will you switch?


– Nicholas Jones, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.