October 2, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

Complete News World

"Providing high-quality bread at an affordable price has become almost impossible"

“Providing high-quality bread at an affordable price has become almost impossible”

Because of rising energy costs, many companies have run out of water. Both the manufacturing industry and the self-employed are sounding the alarm. “European industry is slowly being stifled.”

“The real war, of course, is taking place in Ukraine. But here, in our industrial regions, an economic war is raging. We have the impression that the political world has not really realized this yet. Sander Laredon, a spokesman for the flooring and building materials manufacturer Unilin Group, expresses feelings Pervasive in the business world, both the largest industrial companies and the self-employed with a handful of employees are uneasy about rising energy prices and persistent inflation.

Energy prices continue to cross the pain threshold

Tamara Broaders (Wellness & Sweet Relaxation): “The advance of the gas bill doubled by five.”

‘I’m just crashing this year, but things aren’t looking rosy for next year,’ says Tamara Broeders of the Sweet Relaxation Center in Wilrijk. The swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and bathroom are heated by gas. “The advance on the gas bill has multiplied by five,” she says. Broeders still has a permanent electric contract, but that will expire soon. I carry my heart. The problem is that we can’t raise the entrance fee too much, because then customers will withdraw. Everything will be more expensive for them, too.

Ward Laeremans (Sint-Lambertus and Armand Bakeries): if you count, a loaf of bread will cost 3.5 euros

Same story with Ward Lermans, who runs Sint Lambertus bakeries in Heverley and Armand in Berbeck. “I would like to offer a quality product at an affordable price, but this is gradually becoming impossible,” he says. The gas bill is also a tough one for him. His advance quadrupled to €6,000 a month, but he expects that won’t be enough to cover the final bill. Production costs have increased significantly. If you pass that on to customers, a loaf of bread will cost €3.50. We have already raised the price of a long hunk of gray from 2.40 euros to 2.70 euros, but we have to compete with supermarkets selling cheap bread to attract consumers. The current situation affects my business operations, but it also preoccupies me.

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Delphine Messman (Janchory Laundry): “An additional payment of 6000 euros for the period from February to June”

Delphine Messman, Ganshory’s laundry manager at Ganshoren, is also at a loss. The steam you need for dry cleaning is produced by gas powered machines. During the period from February to June, I already had to pay an additional amount of 6000 euros. I have a small and medium sized business, and I just can’t afford these costs. Customers have not yet come. The problem is that I have no idea what costs I will eventually have to pay. We are now considering raising prices cautiously in steps.

Many companies do everything they can to keep their bills within limits. Mesman has invested in two new small machines that will replace a large one. “They consume less, and we can take a better dose that way.” Tamara Broeders of Sweet Relaxation has invested in cogeneration. And Laeremans are familiar with fellow bakers who have switched from gas to oil. “The world is upside down, because fuel oil is more polluting than gas.”

Fannie Hendrix (BASF): “Customers are no longer willing to pay higher prices”

In industry, production is already being curtailed here and there due to rising energy costs. Zinc company Nyrstar sites in Belgium and France have been running at half capacity since October last year due to high electricity prices. BASF in Antwerp has limited ammonia production because gas is used as raw material. The rise in the price of European gas has a major impact. “Our customers are no longer willing to pay higher prices,” says company spokeswoman Fanny Hendricks. They prefer to buy ammonia from outside Europe.

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Sander Laredon (Unilin Group): European industry is slowly stifling

Unilin is considering that one of its three luxury vinyl tile production lines will be closed for five weeks. Laredon says the decision on this will depend on the evolution of the demand. He fears that demand will fall in the second half of the year, as consumers will cut back on spending due to higher inflation. I don’t want to paint a doomsday scenario, but we are very concerned. Our energy costs have tripled compared to last year. In addition, higher energy costs indirectly affect our raw material costs. European industry is slowly being stifled. We fear that the European manufacturing industry will quickly lose market share compared to other parts of the world, such as China, the United States and Turkey. This is the difference with the past: this is not a global crisis, but a European one.

Danny van Asch (Unizo): Gas prices must be lowered by the ceiling

Each interlocutor stresses that the government must intervene urgently. “We fear that the noose around the neck of many businesses will become so tight this winter that there will be many casualties,” says Danny van Ash, a leading man with the self-employed organization Unizo. In order to maintain corporate profits, gas prices must be lowered by setting a cap, and there must be a support system in place to help companies in difficulty.

Eric Loris (Foca): Belgium desperately needs to take advantage of European opportunities

Employers’ organization Voka stresses that Belgium urgently needs to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the European Union through the so-called Temporary Crisis Framework. “We are rewarding the playing field with Germany and France,” says spokesman Eric Loris. Neighboring countries have already implemented significant corporate tax cuts. Germany, among other things, has lowered the power conversion premium, and France has a ceiling on the price of electricity. The independent work organization NSZ also wants urgent measures. One of the proposals is to reactivate the bridges from the Corona crisis. “We’ve been knocking on the same nail for some time,” says Unilin’s Laredon. So far, the political world has fallen to stone cold. But it is really urgent. The question of how to save our industrial industry requires urgent consultation.

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