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Number of Belgian bakeries down 25% in 10 years

08:54 12/06/2024

The number of bakeries in Belgium has fallen by 25% in just 10 years, according to the official figures.

Closures were especially high in Brussels and Wallonia, where an estimated two bakeries a month closed every month for the last decade.

The economy ministry said both artisan bakeries and larger chains such as Paul were included in the records.

Nevertheless, they point to several factors behind the trend including competition from supermarkets, which offer bakery products at attractive prices.

The high cost of energy and raw materials, as well as labour costs, are also weighing heavily on bakers’ profit margins.

The arduous nature of the work, with its shifts and demanding hours, and the investment required to modernise equipment, puts off many from applying to the 150 vacancies for bakers currently listed on the Forem job site in Wallonia.

The economy ministry says that to survive, bakeries need to diversify, for example by offering sandwiches and other savoury products to attract a wider customer base and boost their sales. Some are also returning to more localised production and traditional breads.

Written by Helen Lyons