Feeling the crunch: Artisan breads is being linked to economic peril. Photo: Joe Wigdahl
Next time you bite into an organic, sourdough loaf or sip a shiraz from a tiny vineyard, spare a guilty thought for Australia’s flagging productivity.
The Productivity Commission has fingered bakers of “artisan products” and “international style breads . . . with healthy additives such as whole grains” as a small but noteworthy drag on our economic efficiency.
It takes twice as many bakers to bake these loaves as it does to bake a fluffy white sliced. But the statistician doesn’t feel the consumers’ pleasure, “given the challenges of measuring changes in quality”. “Bakery product manufacturing is likely to have contributed to lower measures (or productivity),” the commission says.
John Dench, whose eponymous bakery has its a store in toney North Fitzroy, is nonplussed. “I don’t now what percentage artisan bakers make [of] bread production in Australia. I wouldn’t think it’s a huge amount because the fluffy white brigade are doing their best to give us a $1 loaf.”
Small winemakers are in the commission’s sights too, for ignoring falling demand and sticking with the vines. “Lifestyle considerations, tax arrangements, and alternative sources of income may have reduced the incentive for small wine-makers to leave the industry.”
Winemakers’ Federation chief executive Paul Evans , doesn’t disagree. But he says many small winemakers are genuine, long-term players and care should be taken in changing the rules.