- Rising ingredient costs and shortages obstruct bakers
By Venessa Anthony
As Christmas approaches, we see people scrambling left and right to put together a delicious Christmas Day menu. Unfortunately, with all the price hikes and shortages recently, the extravagant feasts that were a viable option in the previous years are no longer even a choice.
With people reluctant to spend too much money on food, and ingredient prices skyrocketing, The Morning Brunch reached out to a few bakers and cooks to see how they are faring this season. Here are a few problems they highlighted.
Dasuni Weerarathne of Better Butter Bakery
This year has been a rollercoaster ride. It’s very hard to find all our ingredients, and the cost is three to four times what we had to spend eight to nine months ago. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we had no choice but to increase menu prices due to the increased food costs.
We want to be as transparent with our customers as possible, especially when it comes to price, so we hope they understand the significant increase in prices is not on our part, but because of the extravagant prices of ingredients nowadays. While it certainly hasn’t been easy, we are hoping for successful Christmas sales. People seem to be in the spirit a bit more, after the dreary season last year.
Zeenath Gunawijaya of Magical Desserts
It has indeed been a very challenging year with sourcing ingredients, especially considering our need for perfection and high-quality ingredients. However, we found a way to source our ingredients. Over time, most ingredients became available again, but at higher rates, due to the current inflation of the economy.
We had no choice but to revise our prices as well! It was impossible to continue without having revised our prices. We did so after giving this a lot of thought, and believing that quality and consistency is what brought us this far – and that’s definitely not something we will ever compromise. Still, our clients were very supportive and understanding of the decision.
This year, we introduced a few special products in line with the upcoming Christmas season that we can manage even with the expensive ingredients and shortages. Some of them are the Christmas Bento Cake, a soft and moist vanilla cake covered with buttercream, and with a festive designed snowman; Santa’s Tres Leches, a signature ultra-light and moist tres leches designed with a Christmas tree topped with sprinkles and a Christmas note; Brownie Wreath with Caramel Sauce, our signature classic brownie with a dipping caramel sauce, topped with sprinkles and Christmas chocolate and our handmade cookies; Christmas Cookie Pie, classic cookie dough loaded with chocolate chunks, gooey middle, topped with Christmas chocolates; Santa’s Fancy Eclairs, which are filled with pastry cream, dipped in chocolate ganache, and topped with Christmas-themed fondant decorations; and Santa’s Magical Gift Box, a combination of best-selling magical desserts that can serve 12-15 people.
Shenela Fernando of Flavour Kitchen
The first quarter of 2022 was pretty decent, as there were no issues in sourcing our ingredients. It was quite good in terms of sales as well. But from May onwards, it has been pretty bad, with most ingredients either unavailable or just really expensive.
For example, one of my bestsellers was apple pie, but with import restrictions and limited availability, it was impossible to sell it at my usual prices. Even now, the prices of eggs and butter, which are mandatory ingredients for pretty much any baked product, are quite expensive, even when purchasing at bulk prices. With those costs, we had to increase the prices, and the number of orders we received were significantly lower.
My official Instagram page was started recently, but most of my orders came through known customers who order dessert cakes at least twice a month. However, after June there were fewer orders, and even those who still order prefer a much smaller portion, simply due to the price differences.
To put it simply, sourcing ingredients is now manageable, but at very high prices, so pricing is quite difficult, with constant changes, as we have to keep up with the ingredient costs, while business has been low in comparison to last year.
Santhushya Abeysinghe of Mad Bakes
The issue I’ve faced this year is mainly and most importantly the price increase of the ingredients, even more so than shortages. There was clearly a shortage, which is what caused the price increases, but even after I managed to find suppliers, the prices skyrocketed, and that affected the final pricing of my products.
It was really difficult to price the products, because to the customer, it’s as if we are keeping a big margin. I have always tried to keep my product in the more affordable range, so it kind of went against my core principle of business.
The other issue was delivery. I usually do my deliveries through PickMe Flash, and it was super expensive, sometimes even more than the amount of the order if it was for bento cakes, which put both the customer and I in a dilemma, because it directly affected the demand for my products and their sales.
Despite all this, they are all hopeful for a somewhat cheerful season, with the past year having been quite bleak; after the year we’ve had, Sri Lankans could really use some festive cheer. And what better way to celebrate than with some delicious, homemade, traditional Christmas goodies?