Our (very) dear bredele: Alsatian Christmas cookies hit by inflation

Alsatian biscuits are also suffering from the rise in the price of raw materials. Depending on their manufacture – artisanal or industrial – and their place of sale – shop or Christmas market, they range from €20 to €60 per kilo. That is a few euros more expensive than in 2021.

Whether cinnamon, orange or chocolate, bredele are a must during the end-of-year celebrations in Alsace. But the famous Christmas cookies are also victims of price fluctuations. And you can feel it when you checkout.

However, visitors to Strasbourg Christmas market (Bas-Rhin) do not shun them. Far from there. “We know these are good cookies so we don’t deprive ourselves“, assures this Swiss client. “The first opening weekend was very good, there were a lot of foreign tourists“, says Marc Westermann, in his chalet on the Place du Temple Neuf.

Here, the bredele are artisanal, made not far from there, in the Pains Westermann shop, and according to our findings, they win the palm of the bredele at a gold price. At €55 per kilo, they are in the high price range. “We can’t afford to be average, we have a reputation and above all a passion to uphold“, summarizes Marc Westermann.

Last year, customers could buy the same biscuits at €50 per kilo, an increase of 10% in one year. Inflation went through it. The price of raw materials has increased : +27% for butter since last year, and even +66% for eggs. And it is above all the price of energy that inflates prices, because these Christmas cakes have to be baked well.

On the Christmas market in Strasbourg, it is possible to find some for less, between 30 and 40 euros per kilo. Industrial biscuits, for which we do not know the place of manufacture.

To find out what you are buying, you might as well go directly to the artisan bakers and pastry chefs. According to the Bas-Rhin Federation, prices will fluctuate on average between €39 and €46 per kilo, even if some stalls will display higher prices. This is the case, for example, of the very chic Christian pastry shop in Strasbourg, with bredele at 52€/kg.

Among manufacturers, it is also difficult to contain the surge in prices. At the essential Fortwenger, the Alsatian firm known for its gingerbread, we manufacture 400 tons of bredele per year, in the workshops of Ensisheim, in the Haut-Rhin (3500m² inaugurated in 2019). Here, the question of cost is sensitive. “Our prices have increased as much as elsewhere“, announces its leader Steve Risch, without further details.

To limit the bill, energy has been rationalized. The ovens only run five days a week. “Since they need to heat for an hour, we prefer to spread the four hours of cooking on Saturday morning over the week, and save heating time.“, explains Steve Risch.

On average, bredele sell for between €20 and €27 per kilo at Fortwenger. It is nevertheless necessary to be attentive to the labels mentioning the composition of the products. The manufacturer, which plays the card of authenticity from a marketing point of view, is less so on the production side, with bredele sometimes made with vegetable oils or glucose syrup.

In addition to increases in energy and raw materials, bakery wages increased by 8% in 2022. Good news for employees, but which has an impact on the selling price. “For the first time, pastry chefs are encouraged to differentiate the price according to the bredele”explains the vice-president of the Federation of Bakers of Bas-Rhin, Didier Schneider.

For example, cinnamon stars are more expensive to produce because they require more work, such as icing after they come out of the oven. In his shop in Wissembourg, Didier Schneider sells them for €46 per kilo, compared to €42 for the other bredeles.

Since he launched his business in 2018, the price of Christmas cookies has risen 16% in his shop, and he hopes the economic situation will not turn customers away. “Maybe the prices will encourage people to try cooking it at home with the kids, but we don’t think that’s going to impact sales.

Today, there are many books and websites that give traditional recipes for bredele. At home, the cost is around 10€ per kilo, without labor of course. Unbeatable.

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this outstanding material

Our (very) dear bredele: Alsatian Christmas cookies hit by inflation