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French energy suppliers agreed this week to allow bakeries to negotiate new payment plans for this year, as soaring prices have forced many bakers to close down shops, CNBC reported Wednesday.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced that energy suppliers agreed to “dissolve contracts when prices have risen prohibitively high and (are) unsustainable for some bakeries.” He added that the government will also allow bakers to spread tax payments and provide more cash support for high energy bills.
The move comes as many small- and medium-sized bakeries in France are facing an existential threat over rising wheat and energy prices. It also comes just a month after France’s iconic baguette was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list, cementing its status in daily life.
Local bakers and grocery stores have tried to keep the staple’s price stable as French inflation has reached new highs. According to Eurostat data released in September, French bread prices rose eight percent year-on-year, albeit the lowest rise in the European Union compared with an 18 percent average rise across the bloc.
Although market prices for crops and energy have dropped slightly, they remain volatile due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Observers noted, however, that the government’s move comes as President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to announce controversial changes to the French pension system that could lead to widespread strikes.