Flour millers and bakers said there is enough supply of flour for the local market and bread production as the economy opens wider on the run up to the Christmas season amid strict observance of the health protocols in this pandemic.
In a virtual press conference to mark the World Bread Day celebration, flour millers and bakers agreed the need to adapt to the new normal.
Ric Pinca, executive director of the Philippine Association of Flour Millers (PAFMIL) announced the readiness of the millers stressing the industry has learned how to cope with the pandemic after experiencing 7 months of various levels of community quarantine.
According to Pinca, the flour industry is very well prepared even if there is a resurgence of COVID-19.
In fact, he said “We are covered for the whole Christmas season.”
“We will not have any shortage of wheat and flour in the next few months. We assure everybody that flour will be available on demand and in every location,” he said adding that flour millers always prepare at this time of the year because demand normally goes up during the Christmas season.
After 7 months of quarantine, he said, the industry is now well prepared and can properly respond in case of a resurgence of the virus.
Flour millers are also doing well because of higher demand especially from community bakers, which are also experiencing brisk sales as bread supplies in supermarkets are limited and movement is limited while the public markets were closed.
“Demand was consistent in fact even higher. Demand did not slow down.
There was not much food available but there was bread so consumption of bread was not disrupted,” he said noting that the industry has expanded further with new millers. In addition, prices of flour are lower than 5 years ago.
Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said that the bread industry does not have many problems during this pandemic because of their unhampered operation being a basic commodity.
Castelo said the bread industry reported to the government’s inter-agency task force on food security that they have sufficient supply of flour up to next year.
Chito Chavez, who owns Tinapaysan, said community bakers just have to adapt with the situation. As businessmen, he urged bakers to survive and think of profitability later. Thus, he stressed that compliance to health protocols is critical for their survival.
Walter Co, owner of Walter Bread, also noted of a general shift among consumers from the more expensive bread to the cheaper ones.
“People are earning less these days, many are out of work,“ he said. But, Co said that the longer impact is that big companies will go for automation and rely on less people to run a bakery.
“Those with capital going for partial or full automation,” he said.