BAKERS have warned that bread and pastie prices are set to rise because of poor crops and increased energy bills.

The National Association of Master Bakers, which represents about 1,000 small bakeries, expects bread to increase in price by up to 10p a loaf by the end of September.

Unsuitable weather has led to a poor wheat crop which, coupled with rising energy costs, means the price of flour is set to rise between 15 to 20 per cent.

Rank Hovis, which owns eight mills, is increasing its flour prices by an average £29 a tonne next month. ADM Milling, which owns nine mills, is pushing up its flour prices by £28.75 a tonne. The two companies together are the biggest milling force in the UK.

David Carr, a co-director of Carr's Pasties on Manchester Road, Bolton, said that consumers should prepare for higher prices.

He said: "It is not just the price of flour that is hitting bakers. Production costs are increasing across the board. We have higher energy costs and fuel prices, which raise our distribution prices. And the price of potatoes has increased. Earlier this year, we paid £3.50 for a 25 kilo bag of potatoes, now that has gone up to £6.

"We use thousands of kilos a year so the increase is very large."

The price of supermarket loaves, which vary in price from around 30p for the most basic to £1.10 for the most luxurious, is expected to rise as bakers are also being affected by rising fuel costs.

A spokesman for Rank Hovis, which owns the Hovis brand and supplies own-brand bread to other stores, said the price of its bread was being kept under review.

ADM Milling said its price rises were an "essential reaction" to rising energy, fuel and wheat costs. Managing director Ian Pinner said: "This is the third year that we have had to accept increased energy costs which are now 30 per cent higher than in November, 2005"

A spokesman for Warburtons said: "We work closely with our suppliers to monitor trends in the wheat market and track energy costs.

"However, we are unable at this stage to comment on any effect on future bread prices."