He pointed to the costs of materials going up 50%. And "now, there is also the energy cost crisis. So far, we have only seen an increase of around 70%, because we heat the furnaces with diesel oil. A fourfold increase in price is to be feared.”
Schlechtrimen tried to save energy wherever possible — but that wasn't enough to make up for growing expenses.
He also raised the prices of his products to cover his spiking costs, but customers, who also are tightening belts as inflation rises, stayed away and turned to discounters selling industrially manufactured baked goods for less money.
Eventually, the Cologne baker had to concede that he's no longer making enough profit to sustain his business.
Schlechtrimen isn't the only baker struggling to make a living in Germany these days. Small, family-owned bakeries across the country are having a hard time covering their costs.
“Many businesses in the bakery trade are worried about how they are going to get through the next few months. They are facing a cost tsunami," said Friedemann Berg, managing director of the German Bakers’ Confederation.
“We would like to see a financial bailout for our bakeries, with the federal government providing aid to help our businesses effectively, quickly and unbureaucratically," Berg said.
The German government this month announced an additional 65 billion-euro investment in a new round of measures aimed at easing the sting of inflation and high energy prices for consumers.
But for people like Schlechtrimen, the aid may be coming too late.
Kirsten Grieshaber and Pietro de Cristofaro contributed to this report from Berlin.