Bread price hike expected in NZ

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The price of bread in New Zealand is set to rise as Russia's invasion of Ukraine puts pressure on global wheat prices.

Ukraine and Russia account for about 30 per cent of global wheat exports and since the conflict began global prices have risen sharply due to supply fears.

Flour Millers Association secretary Andy Worrill said about 70 per cent of the wheat used in flour production in New Zealand was imported, mostly from Australia.

Worrill said while its members did not directly import wheat from Russia and Ukraine, other countries that did were now looking to Australia to bolster their supplies.

"So, inevitably, there's likely to be a price increase to get wheat into New Zealand and we expect that to flow through to pricing at some point for wheat based food products," he said.

Worrill said some members had forward contracts which would help delay price increases "to some extent," but new orders would have to start being placed for future supply reasonably soon.

"The bottom line is that there is uncertainty around just where that wheat price is going to end up, the wheat that comes out of Russia and Ukraine is a significant part of world supply and the disruption to that market will inevitably have an impact on the world price."

Lincoln University agribusiness professor Hamish Gow, who specialises in trade policy and global value chains, said bread would likely be one of the first food products where consumers noticed a price hike as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"[It's] impacting grain prices immediately ... so it'll probably come through and things like bread and oil, vegetable oils first and then it'll start feeding its way into other ones."

Food manufacturers could cover higher input costs for only so long before they had to start passing some of this on to consumers, he said.

Gow said countries which had not placed sanctions on Russia, such as China, were likely to receive grain from Russia at a discounted rate - something which was already being seen on the energy market.

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