Empty shelves in North Macedonia as bakers stop making bread

Empty shelves in North Macedonia as bakers stop making bread
Shelves have already emptied in Skopje supermarkets and grocery shops. / Valentina Dimitrievska
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje March 1, 2023

Store shelves in North Macedonia were left without white bread on March 1, as bakers have stopped producing the best-selling breads in protest against the government's decision to cap prices at MKD33 (€0.5) for the next three months.

The government's measure was taken a day earlier to prevent bakers from abusing the system by using cheaper electricity without reducing prices. The capped price refers to white and semi-white bread with a weight of 450 grams.

However, bakers claim that the cap on prices will force them to work at a loss and will inevitably lead to the closure of their companies.

“If we do not close our bakeries immediately, after such a decision we will certainly close after some time,” president of the group for the milling and baking industry at the Chamber of Commerce, Goran Malisic, was cited by Denesen.

A day earlier, representatives of the bakery industry held a meeting attended by 32 industrial bakers from all over the country and agreed to stop producing bread on the day when the decision to freeze the price of bread is published in the Official Gazette.

On March 1, the State Market Inspectorate has been conducting checks to ensure that the government's decision is being respected.

Minister of Economy Kreshnik Bekteshi called on the boycotting bakers to engage in dialogue, warning of potential sanctions for those who do not produce bread.

Some experts told media that the government has a responsibility to protect the public interest and ensure that bread is available to citizens.

They suggest that if necessary, the government should introduce forced administration in the companies that are boycotting the decision to freeze the price of bread and stop their electricity subsidies.

However, some citizens are already taking matters into their own hands by buying flour and baking bread at home, as bread is becoming increasingly difficult to find in shops.

It is unclear how the government and the bakery industry will resolve their differences.