MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Food prices were already steadily increasing because of the pandemic. Now, Russia’s war in Ukraine has changed prices of wheat overnight.
Russia and Ukraine combined transport more than a quarter of the world’s wheat. Since the war started bakeries globally have been struggling to keep wheat supply.
Benjamin’s Bakery and Café in Surfside Beach is known for its freshly baked bread, pastries and roasted coffee. Owner Lee Zulanch said the business had no choice but to raise its prices after the price of flour went up 20%.
“The war was another wrench in an already broken system. Two years of supply line interruptions and price increases and labor shortages has made doing business more of a gamble,” Zulanch said.
Zulanch said the war has put the business in a position where it is not sure what the ingredients costs are going to be, how much supply it can get and if it will have the labor needed.
“These last couple of years has caused labor to go up a percentage that I would have never predicted before. And now the supply line interruptions have caused us to warehouse anything we can get our hands on while it’s available. Space and inventory dollars have been put into places where you would never think you would need to fund,” Zulanch said.
Zulanch attempted to order a month’s supply of wheat, but quickly found out vendors did not have wheat to sell.
“We tried to order in a month supply of flour which conservatively is about eight pallets. Of the eight pallets I got shipped two. I tried to order the other six pallets from another vendor that we use, and I got two from them. And that’s at any price, they don’t have the flour to ship. And this supply and demand issue has pushed the price to astronomical levels. But you can’t be a bakery, especially a bread bakery without flour,” Zulanch said.
Zulanch said the bakery will be able to withstand the current inflation and labor shortages, and will not complain knowing the breadbasket of Europe is fighting for their lives.