Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Globalisation of the baguette

Lidl are the biggest "discount alimentaire" store in France and are very proliferate in the Pyrenees Orientales with 19 stores. When you consider that the population of the PO is only 450,000 people, the German discount store has a firm grip on the short and curlies of the "hard discount" market here.
I'm a fan of Lidl, for a once a month shop, to stock up, and for pasta, toilet roll, tins of tomatoes, nuts, dried fruits and toiletries, you can't beat it for price. They also do the tastiest ice cream, some really nice Italian cold meats, a selection of good cheeses and their cleaning products are ace.
I do have a problem with their 29cent baguettes though - no independent bakery can compete with this cut throat price for crying out loud, with the average price being about 80cents for a baguette in the local corner shop.
Not all the Lidls sell 'Votre pain frais quotidien cuit sur place', but those that do are situated near towns like the ones near Canet village and Port Vendres for example. So bread buyers saunter into a German store to purchase their traditional french bread .. with baguettes under one arm, they probably pick up a few other essentials under the other arm and off they trot, saving themselves an average of 50cents per baguette. Quickly doing the sums ( I am an accountant , after all!!), an average french household consumes 2 baguettes per day, so a saving of 7euros per week, 350euros per year, not to be snuffed at...
Meanwhile, your local baker gets squeezed out of the market and the little ole lady who used to home bake her lovely chocolate cakes and friandises alongside her trusty baguette becomes a distant memory. Two bakeries have closed down in Port Vendres since Lidl began their loss leader tactics.
The little guy has come out in some towns to protest against the German giants but it's a free market, with no price fixing and unfortunately with the economics in the PO; a low average wage and an aging population, this means that the bread loving public are flocking to their local Lidl.
It's a sad day for France when the local small artisan is forced out of the market by the greedy globalisation of "les grandes surfaces"
C'mon guys, leave the poor little boulangerie alone! In this case, L'idéal ce n'est pas Lidl!!


  1. Forget it! All my local boulangeries used ready mix.. a brick with razor edged crusts!

    When I was first in France I had a real professional baker...overnight sponge...mixed by hand in a wooden trough at 3.00a.m.
    He let me work with him - a privilege!

  2. I agree with Fly. Most boulangeries don't deserve the name. I bake most of my own bread but when I'd like a baguette I don't go to either of the boulangeries in my village but to the village next door where they bake real bread made on-site. The difference in taste is huge.

  3. Hi Kaz, I have to admit that we started to buy bread from Lidl too as we bought similar products to you and agree that Lidl are great for these. However the bread is par-bake and not a patch on any of our local bakers so we have stopped and Im surprised that the French are not doing the same, try them once then move back to the real bread from the local bakers.

  4. Hi Karen, Failed again to post to blog yesterday.I think I know the problem now, Its the mobile phone???. Anyway!!! LIDL, is in every town, and City in Ireland, as it is Worldwide,well,maybe Europeanwide??
    They have affected a lot of business's. IE, Florist,s etc.,when working in a Florist, I know how cheap they sell their flowers,BUT, I must say the quality was not as good.
    What about "Cuisine De France"? surely they have put more small family bakeries out of business? with their delicious "moment on the lips,Forever on the hips delicacies, tarts French bread etc.,They are operating in every supermarket, Garage, and corner shop that I know,I presume they are a French Company/Entrepreneur?
    A long established bakery has closed in Nenagh, also as a result of cheaper bread and confectionery, But as they say That's Progress 4U ,WEE??? GAB

  5. Fly and Sarah, I agree, some boulangeries are not worth their salt. I should have stipulated the artisanal boulangeries. Regardless of quality, it's still the big corporate giant putting the little guy out of business..
    BG, agree 100%
    GAB, The problem I have is with a German company strategically using loss leader tactics to get footfall into their stores and trampling on the little french baker who's trying to make a living. It just doesn't seem fair?


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