Today Casa Pan Dulce, the main producer of bread in Western Belize, announced that it would be phasing out the production of its "price controlled" 16 ounce sliced bread and replacing it with a 17 ounce loaf. According to a press release issued by the bakery's management, the recent increase in fuel prices on top of rises in the cost of raw materials and import duties have made production and distribution of the product unsustainable. The price of 16 ounce sliced bread is controlled by the Bureau of Standards, so by slightly increasing the size Pan Dulce will be able to set it's own financially viable prices while still remaining competitive.

We spoke to a representative of Casa Pan Dulce earlier today who told us that he expects other bakeries throughout the country to make a similar change - which could signal an end to the price controlled regime for one of the most basic food staples.

The 17 ounce loaf will now retail for $2.00 dollars, which is a 25 cent increase over the 16 ounce.

Channel 7

Casa Pan Dulce Changes Bread and Price

On Friday, we told you of plans by Darioís Bakery to lift prices for meat pies from a dollar to a dollar twenty-five beginning today, Tuesday. Tonight, our viewers in Belmopan and San Ignacio/Santa Elena should note that beginning today, there are no more sixteen-ounce loaves of bread from Casa Pan Dulce Bakery, which are price-controlled at one dollar, seventy-five cents as agreed by the Bureau of Standards. Instead, a seventeen-ounce loaf will be produced to sell at a wholesale price of one dollar and seventy-five cents but retail for two dollars. The bakery has been in service since 2010 but has cited escalating costs, particularly for fuel and import duties as its reason for raising prices. News Five spoke to one of the proprietors, Andre Perez, via telephone this evening. He explained that they do not expect to incur any penalties from the Bureau for their actions.

On the Phone: Andre Perez, Proprietor, Casa Pan Dulce Bakery Company Ltd.

ďOne of the things that any prudent businessman will look at is their costs; and when we are talking about cost of goods; many people think about, Ďokay, the price of flour noh gaan up or gaan down yet;í flour is just one of the key ingredients in the baking industry. There are so many other factors that come in when it comes [to that]. And when you start to look at these figures and the cost of goods going up sky-high, and the first three months and this month was the highest ever recorded. And I donít want to give my figures publicly, but itís coming at a dangerous level and telling you, listen, you really have to look and this, that [itís] sustainable. And another thing is that keeping in mind that we also have eighty-plus employees, and considering a factor that everybody will have to take a pay cut Ė thatís absolutely not a road that we are not willing to take and weíre not going to. We are not prepared. We understand the hard times, so at this point in time, job security for our employees is guaranteed. We are not cutting jobs; we are not cutting salaries, not at all. We continue working. Itís not going to incur any kind of penalty, because you are not subsist; we cannot force you so that you are forced to, obliged to sell price-controlled bread. Now if we are to go there and sell this product, this sixteen-ounce which is price-controlled at a higher price then yes, we can be penalized. But we are saying itís no use; itís no use arguing, fighting with them; they have their hands filled up.Ē

For now, Casa Pan Dulce is the only bakery organizing this change; however, sources tell News Five that other bakeries are considering the same measure.

Channel 5