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Local 'Grain Chain' easing wheat price pain for Barrio Bread owner

The war in Ukraine is pushing wheat supply fears and prices higher.
Posted at 10:35 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-12 00:35:01-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The war in Ukraine is not only affecting gas prices. It’s making wheat and the food we eat more expensive.

Sn incomplete harvest this year in Ukraine—and the potential for more sanctions in Russia—would slash the world’s wheat supply. That’s driving up fears and prices.

Here in Southern Arizona, few know grain and bread better than Don Guerra, a baker and entrepreneur who owns Barrio Bread and is a partner at a new downtown Tucson restaurant, The Monica.

“Right now it’s a real volatile sort of situation,” he said Friday. “Across the world, food prices are soaring and we really need to find out different ways we can offer the foods at a reasonable price.”

Guerra says he can do that because his price for grain was locked in years ago through deals with several local millers and growers from Marana to Phoenix.

“I’ve had a partnership with them, [I was] some of their first customers,” he said. “And got this whole ‘Grain Economy’ off the ground with them.”

His goal is to educate and cultivate the local grain-growing economy. In return for a fair price, Guerra commits to buying his supply from those local partners.

“This is part of my project over the last decade is try to secure that chain and shorten that grain chain and know the farmers directly,” Guerra said. “So there is grain in place for me to make my breads, because my business is built on that.”

Guerra says having grain security means food security for his customers here in Tucson.

“Hopefully just keeps going the way it is, because I wanna continue to feed people," he said.