A $12 loaf of sourdough? Blame Rising Flour Prices

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Azikiwee Anderson charges $12 for a loaf of their “OG Sourdough.” That might surprise some customers, but it has its reasons.

For one, Anderson employs about 20 people at his SoMa business, Rize Up Bakery, and says he tries to pay them a decent wage. Of course, the cost of operating a traditional food business in San Francisco is inherently high. But he, too, moved in months after inflation began wreaking havoc on the global food system, driving up the cost of its main ingredient: certified organic flour.

In 2022, the price of flour increased about 20 percent, according to the USDA. That means each bag of flour costs about 40 cents more than it did in 2021. Anderson said that since 2021, the cost of a 50-pound bag of flour has risen from $50 to about $67.

Covid, inflation, the war in Ukraine and drought conditions have created a perfect storm of economic factors that have shaken the food system, revealing its vulnerabilities. When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the cost of wheat rose globally, hitting a 14-year high in April.

Anderson told The Standard that the price increase was very damaging. “I wasn’t ready for that,” he said.

Azikiwee Anderson checks inventory inside the walk-in freezer of the bake space at her SoMa store on October 27, 2022. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

Based on current projections, consumers can expect things to get worse before they get better. The Consumer Price Index predicts a five to six percent increase in bakery products in 2023. Demand is also increasing. MarketWatch reports that the global organic wheat flour market is expected to rise at a significant rate between now and 2028.

Anderson has taken a few steps to make sure they don’t waste food. By making as many loaves as people order, he doesn’t have to charge extra to make up for the cost of the food he throws away. But while this wholesale approach mitigates the impacts of inflation on his business, he said there’s another reason he keeps his prices high.

Anderson said the way he sees it, you’re just paying for quality.

“The places I go to, I really care about the staff there,” he said. “I really care […] the quality of what they are doing. So when I go there and they tell me it’s an extra $22 I just pay it. […] because I’m happy they’re there.”

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