High energy costs have hit many Greek industries hard – no less so than the country’s bakeries.
With electricity and gas bills going through the roof, many local bakeries have been contemplating their future, and many face closures.
For the last seven years, Tassos Vazakas has owned a bakery in Athens, where he employs 28 workers. In the last year, the baker has been faced with an unprecedented situation. He used to pay around €1000 for natural gas – but now he’s paying almost five times that amount.
“This is an increase that we cannot afford, that we cannot pay. I honestly don’t know what to do. All this is beyond my endurance, ” Vazakas tells Euronews.
The Greek government adopted measures to subsidise 40 cents for every kilowatt-per-hour of electricity consumed by a bakery. Bakers recognise the support of the state but are also asking for an increase in the natural gas subsidy and a reduction in VAT from 13% to 6%.
“The increases in goods and raw materials in some cases reach 100%. For example, the price of flour has doubled, all dairy products have increased by 60%. The price of eggs has also doubled. Where will this go?’’ Vazakas says.
Price of food is also a burden
In addition to bread and treats, the bakery also offers cooked food. Vagia Chroni has spent 35 years in the kitchen, and says she cannot remember “such a sudden change” and indeed of such a long duration of price hikes.
She tells Euronews that the cost of buying food at the supermarket is rising every week.
“Everything has become so expensive! The price of olive oil has increased and we can no longer buy meat. Chicken fillet has reached 10 euros, beef is over 12 euros. Who can shop at such prices? No family can fill its fridge.”
Around 14,500 bakeries operate throughout the country. The Baker’s Federation says between 10% to 15% of its members are struggling to survive.
Τrade unionists claim that around 300 bakeries will close after Christmas, and more closures may follow if current economic conditions do not improve.