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Traditional carnival pastries: Raspberry crisis causes Berliner prices to soar

Traditional carnival pastries : Raspberry crisis causes Berliner prices to soar

The poor raspberry harvest last year and cancellations of carnival parties are putting pressure on bakeries' business. Kamps has now reacted.

Master baker Thomas Puppe sells Berliner all year round in his 16 shops. Up to 1,800 Zuckerberliners - the classics with raspberry-currant jam - are sold every day. His employees can make 600 of them in an hour and with a single pan. They need about 60 grams of dough for each one. So much for the normal day-to-day business.

There is one day a year when - as Puppe says - "it's as if someone had pressed a button and suddenly everyone was eating doughnuts. Then 1,800 suddenly become 25,000, the one pan in the bakery suddenly becomes three. And if you add to the 25,000 Berliners the other varieties, with plum jam or champagne truffle filling, for example, you get about 45,000.

This one day, it is not difficult to guess, is Altweiber for the Puppe bakery. Even the day before, doughnuts are produced around the clock. "Every mouse and every man is activated," says Puppe. Even those who usually sit in the office are in the bakery. During carnival week, the doughnut business accounts for more than half of his total turnover. On Shrove Monday, too, demand is high.

"Things are bad with raspberries at the moment"

Just ten years ago, master baker Puppe was himself a carnival prince in Düsseldorf. When he talks about Berliners, he speaks of a "total work of art". The most important question, then: Is everything secured for the dough this year? Or are there supply bottlenecks? "Fortunately, there is calm at this point at the moment. So it's not that ingredients are not available. However, they have become much more expensive," says Puppe. And then, he adds, there is another problem: "The raspberry crisis."

Master baker Puppe quickly secured six more pallets of jam. 60 buckets on each pallet, 15 kilograms in each pot. He was worried that his favourite jam producer from Austria might lower the raspberry content in the raspberry-currant mix and increase the currant content because of the shortage on the market. The contrast between the sweet and the tart fruit is crucial for the filling.

What was wrong with the 2021 raspberry harvest? Christoph Freitag, Managing Director of the Federal Association of the Fruit, Vegetable and Potato Processing Industry, says: "Things are bad with raspberries at the moment." In Mexico and Chile, the harvests have collapsed by half. In Eastern Europe it was too cold in the spring and too hot in the summer: "Those who could still get raspberries often had to pay double. The industry in particular can hardly find suppliers. He thinks it is possible that some jam recipes will be adapted.

Ingredients have become more expensive

Peter Terbuyken, head of the bakery chain of the same name, can also imagine that his raspberry-currant mixture could soon become a currant-raspberry mixture. But he is not yet sure about the change in filling. In the bakery, where most of the jam for the pastries is made in-house, they are still experimenting with the fruit content. The doughnuts are filled twice. Last year, about 10,000 fewer were produced - due to Corona and cancelled celebrations. Nevertheless: "The demand was greater than expected. We were surprised ourselves," says Terbuyken.

According to Markus Theißen from the Association of the Rhenish Bakery Trade, it is impossible to say how much the 2021 pandemic affected the Berliner business. Some bakeries hardly noticed a drop in sales, others sold about half as much. It is also a question of location: is the shop rather isolated? Or in a place where the parade passes by? He can only confirm the problem with price increases, says Theißen. "Across the board", ingredients have increased in price by ten to 15 percent. "Nevertheless, the Berliner is a grateful pastry with which you can certainly still earn money," says Theißen. One piece costs about ten cents as pure raw material costs, he says. The price ranges from 1.50 Euro to well over two Euro.

The Kamps bakery says it has raised its recommended price for doughnuts in local branches by an average of ten per cent. One reason is the high proportion of butter in the recipe - an ingredient that is currently "affected by enormous price increases". On Altweiber alone, Kamps usually sells around 200,000 doughnuts; about 500 per branch. Before Corona, the share of total sales was about 15 percent on average.

The price increases for ingredients also affect the smaller bakeries. "I've been in the business for 55 years, but I've never experienced such a surcharge," says Johann Berns of Landbäckerei Berns in Kamp-Lintfort. Around 5,000 to 6,000 doughnuts usually cross his counter every day during carnival week. In 2021, he says, it was about 40 percent less. How many does he expect this year? It's hard to estimate, says Berns: "We're poking around in the fog a bit.“

Ex-carnival prince Puppe usually sells his doughnuts in buckets of eleven. Because they don't sell well without celebrations, he came up with something in 2021 - the "box against the carnival blues": two doughnuts, some decoration and a QR code that leads to a carnival song. There will be one this time, too. (Original text: Marei Vittinghoff / Translation: Mareike Graepel)