Financial crisis hits 'pan de sal' industry


Posted at Feb 17 2009 06:11 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2009 02:38 AM

The baking industry is faced with the problem of slower consumption of bread, particularly "pan de sal" (salt bread), as a result of the global financial crisis, bakers said Tuesday.

Philippine Federation of Bakers Inc. vice president Lucito Chavez said consumption of pan de sal has been declining because Filipinos prefer to buy noodles, a product also derived from flour. He said around 10,000 to 12,000 bakery operators nationwide might be affected by the slowdown in bread consumption.

"Imagine, your P10 can buy two packs of noodles which can feed an entire family. The same P10 can buy just 5 pieces of pandesal, which could feed one person," Chavez said.

Due to the economic crisis, Chavez said consumers are buying less bread to cut costs. He said bakers are seeking government support through financing and power subsidies to help sustain the bread industry.

"We have to draw up measures to sustain the bakery industry. We are praying that government would do something for the industry," he said.

Chavez added that Filipinos should bring back the old tradition of eating pan de sal as their bread of choice, especially with more alternatives already available in the market.

"Pan de sal is still the Filipino bread. It is fortified and easy to prepare," he said.

Bakers' fair

Chavez said bakers will address the slowdown in consumption, among other issues, at the 5th International Exhibition on Bakery, Confectionery and Food Service Equipment and Supplies on Thursday and Friday at the World Trade Center.

The event aims to support and reinforce all players in the bread industry nationwide by giving them information on the latest technology in baking, the newest concepts, and business trends. It will be hosted by the Filipino-Chinese Bakery Association (FCBAI). Others who will take part in the fair include the Phil Baking Group, Cuenca Bakers Association and the Labac Bakers.

Chavez said bakers will seek the commitment of the government, through the Department of Trade and Industry, and the SB Corp. to come up with a loan program which would give out loans to bakers at reasonable rates and help them develop technology. At the fair, baking equipment can be purchased at 10 to 15 percent discount.

With easier financing terms, Chavez said bakers can buy ovens and other equipment and attend seminars to upgrade and modernize their operations.
This way, they would be able to improve their products and boost the industry.

"Financing is a problem for bakers because of their size. It is hard to get loans," he said.