Crickhowell baker faces challenges sourcing local ingredients.
Crickhowell baker, Steve Askew, says a limited supply of local ingredients, the high cost of British wheat and cost-conscious consumers are his biggest obstacles to using local products. But he says he will cater for customers who want truly local bread, baked with local flour if enough of them want it.
He said: “Daily, we bake between 200 and 300 loaves of bread, as well as all the cakes, buns and baps and so on. Our biggest ingredient is flour, which we buy from a wholesaler in Bristol who imports from all around the world. We pay them £11 for a 16KG bag. There is no equivalent local supplier. Talgarth Mill only supply wholemeal flour and they charge £18.72 a bag, which would mean we would have to put 25 pence per loaf on wholemeal bread. There is a company in Oxfordshire who are cheaper, and they make flour from British wheat, but even using them I would have to put 7 or 8 per cent on a loaf, and I don’t believe people would pay it.”
“We are used by local people, whether they are builders, school kids, just locals in the community, we get a regular turnover of people, and we’re considered low end for Crickhowell price-wise. That’s where we make our money: the footfall through the shop. We have to sell a lot of low-cost products to make our money. We could only increase our prices so much before that footfall would drop, and people would go elsewhere. Then we would have to increase our prices a lot more to make up for the loss of trade. People come in every day and expect to pay the same price for a loaf of bread as in a supermarket. They might go to an artisan baker once in a while for a treat, but not every day, we have to be competitive daily.”
Askew’s Family Bakery, in Crickhowell High Street, employs 13 permanent staff as well as holiday cover and starts baking at 2am every morning. They supply bread to Grenfell’s, The Bear and The Dragon Inn among others.
“We are a local producer,” says Steve, “and we employ local people. We would be willing to cater to customers who wanted truly local bread using only local ingredients if the demand was there.”
Steve says Askews’ oven can bake 120 large loaves in a batch but thinks it would only take regular orders for 80 or 90 loaves a day to make local bread production a viable reality.
“A lot of people are on budgets, Steve said, “and they don’t want to pay that much for a loaf of bread. But I could be wrong. We are certainly willing to give it a try if the demand is there.”
Article and photographs by Tim Jones, As You See It Media
Askew’s Family BakeryEatery, Producer, Shop
|Address||15 High St, Crickhowell NP8 1BD|
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