CHICAGO — Pressures from input costs, labor costs and supply chain disruptions all should “calm down” throughout 2022 and into 2023, even when considering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR economics. The economic impacts of Russia’s military actions, and the resulting sanctions, should be temporary, he said during his March 2 keynote speech at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech in Chicago.
Mr. Beaulieu recognized current inflationary pressures: the producer price index for US bakery products recently shot to 305.5 with 1982 as the base and US producer price indexes for cooking oil, flour and mixes have increased, too. Yet economic signs like leading price indicators foretell a declining rate of increases in prices and food production in the coming months.
“It’s going to calm down,” he said. “As it calms down, it’s still going to go up at a pace like 2014, at a pace that you recognize. So you’re going to raise prices. There’s no way you’re not raising prices through this decade. Your labor (costs) are going to cause inflation. Prices are still going to be going up, just not at the same pace. So you have to figure out a strategy for raising prices.”
One strategy Mr. Beaulieu recommended was companies gathering their senior management teams and asking each member to list the company’s top two competitive advantages.
“See if people around that table put down the same things, see if it’s something close to the same wording,” he said. “If they don’t, your competitive advantage message is muddled because even senior management doesn’t know it.”
The Russia-Ukraine situation pushed oil prices over $100 per barrel.
“More than likely this is something temporary,” Mr. Beaulieu said. “Having said that, I’m not forecasting how long the war will last, but usually these things don’t last all that long, and oil prices will come back down.”
The stock market has been “jittery” during the Russia-Ukraine war, he said.“But the bond market is not overly concerned, and that’s where I look,” Mr. Beaulieu said. “When it comes to the bond market, that is smart money. The bond market is not reacting in an overly aggressive way.”