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The flour shortage

(119 Posts)
JinglingHellsBells Mon 20-Apr-20 16:04:40

Can anyone shed any light on this?

I can't get my head round why it's flown off the shelves. (Someone did say parents making play dough or whatever but not convinced.)

Is everyone baking like mad out of boredom?

Or- and this was my first thought- did everyone panic, think what they would need if they were locked down with no food for weeks and all think..

Ta dah! We need flour to make bread - one of life's essential foods.

Given there is no shortage of bread, cakes or baked good in the supermarkets, I really don't understand. Even if people normally do a bit of baking each week, it doesn't explain the huge shortage.

It doesn't affect me much personally as I am gluten-free, and can use other flours, but it's just weird.

OP’s posts: |
VivaLeBeaver Mon 20-Apr-20 16:10:50

Can you find gluten free flour because I’m struggling.

I have got a bag of rice flour I’ve had for ages and am contemplating trying that!

IDefinitelyHaveFriends Mon 20-Apr-20 16:11:03

Most people don’t buy flour often - it’s a very occasional purchase and the supply chain is set up accordingly. Shedloads of people suddenly find themselves thinking “how shall I entertain the DC stuck indoors?” or “what hobby can I take up stuck indoors” and the demand spikes by a factor of ten. I normally bake once every month or two, but I’ve baked with flour five times since lockdown. People on neighbourhood Facebook group are showing off their sourdough, cinnamon buns, fairy cakes, and all sorts.

H1978 Mon 20-Apr-20 16:17:11

I think when panic buying, it’s buying things you can keep for a while in cupboards that’s easy to store and versatile hence flour, pasta and rice are selling fast

WrinklesShminkles Mon 20-Apr-20 16:17:45

It's not a shortage of flour but of 1kg packaging to put it in. Businesses like bakeries buy it in enormous sacks (or tankers!) and they've found it difficult to transfer the supply to small packets for the increased domestic demand (for baking/modelling dough/etc).

Glitterpearl Mon 20-Apr-20 16:18:47

I read an article that said that the majority of flour is produced for bulk customers and that the issues with the availability in shops is not because there isn't enough flour, but because the production lines that bag it into small bags can't cope with the sudden increase in demand.

That is why bread and other food that uses flour as an ingredient are unaffected, but supermarkets are running short.

inews.co.uk/news/consumer/why-no-flour-supermarkets-baking-uk-coronavirus-lockdown-explained-2528688

JinglingHellsBells Mon 20-Apr-20 16:20:16

But there is no need to panic buy as the shops are full of bread and cakes.

Even small corner shops are selling them (ours is.)

I suppose it annoys me as I'm shopping online too for my very elderly Mum (in her 90s) who bakes once a week and can't get any.

Seems very selfish that families are buying so much that it means other people can't get any, when it's just to keep the kids happy.

It's the same for sugar as well.

OP’s posts: |
Blondiecub0109 Mon 20-Apr-20 16:20:47

What @WrinklesShminkles said. Only about 4% of flour in UK is for retail the rest is bulk/wholesale. So over demand for flour is the same (or gone down even) but switch to smaller packaging is an issue.

I’ve managed to get Plain and SR from a farm shop Who decant it into their own waxed paper bags

YouAndMeAndTheDevilMakesThree Mon 20-Apr-20 16:20:48

I think it's a combination of:

Baking out of boredom

Entertaining DC (including homemade playdough)

Avoiding running out of bread etc when it's hard to get supermarket delivery slots (the vulnerable may not want to go to the shop in person just for bread)

Aesopfable Mon 20-Apr-20 16:23:02

Bread flour is the hardest to find (and yeast). I’ve bought plain and self raising since the lockdown but no bread flour in shops at all. Instead I have just bought a 16 kg sack straight from a miller. We are a medium sized family and eating toast at breakfast and sandwiches at lunch mean we get through it quickly. If I am shopping once a week we would have stale bread by the end (freezer is full) so I make it using our bread maker.

ALovelyBitOfSquirrel Mon 20-Apr-20 16:23:40

It's all the bloody selfish playdough makers apparently ... oooh that thread was a great one! grin

PerplexingWords Mon 20-Apr-20 16:23:43

I usually bake bread once a week or so, and buy ad hoc in between. I really, really want to avoid going out to the shops, and would rather bake more at home. I got the first bread flour in a month in my online shop today. They have cancelled it every other time.

Aesopfable Mon 20-Apr-20 16:26:23

I am not sure why you object to keeping kids happy and fed. Fairy cakes don’t go to waste.

Iamthewombat Mon 20-Apr-20 16:27:22

I was confused by this too. The supermarket shelves are full of bread but people are still stockpiling flour? Bizarre.

I can’t see vulnerable people turning to home baking bread in great numbers, out of the blue! It’s pretty hard work.

Mind you, nobody will ever admit to panic buying. Somebody we know went out and bought 100 eggs at the beginning of March. But he definitely wasn’t panic buying, no. Absolutely not. He seems to believe that in order to ‘panic buy’ you have to be running around the shop squealing and waving your hands in the air.

Tootletum Mon 20-Apr-20 16:27:36

Why's it selfish to want to bake??

Apolloanddaphne Mon 20-Apr-20 16:29:04

I read an article which said there is plenty of flour but a shortage of the packaging needed to to put it in. They need far more small bags for the supermarkets than they do for large bakeries.

Waxonwaxoff0 Mon 20-Apr-20 16:29:16

Why is it selfish to want to keep your children happy in these strange times?

I don't usually do that much baking but I've been doing it once a week with DS since lockdown. I don't care if that makes me selfish.

I haven't got loads, I've got a one kilo bag of self raising and one of plain in the house.

Iamthewombat Mon 20-Apr-20 16:29:23

It’s selfish to take more than your fair share so that other people can’t have any of the same commodity.

JinglingHellsBells Mon 20-Apr-20 16:29:25

Aesopfable I am all for kids being fed but cake is not essential.
Discuss grin

OP’s posts: |
BIWI Mon 20-Apr-20 16:30:26

No shortage of sugar though!

Iamthewombat Mon 20-Apr-20 16:30:27

keeping kids happy and fed.

keep your children happy in these strange times

All euphemisms.

CuriousaboutSamphire Mon 20-Apr-20 16:30:57

I do bake bread regularly and it was really surprising, initially. But a local baker is selling both flour and yeast. You leave your container, labelled, and pick it up the following day. They fill them up when the last loaf goes into the oven.

It's worked so well they are considering continuing with it, and selling sourdough starter too. They are trying to work out whether it really would be additional sales rather than taking away from their main business.

I hope they do, we now have a regular order in and tend to pick up croissants, or similar, at the same time. So they definitely get extra spends from me smile

JinglingHellsBells Mon 20-Apr-20 16:31:03

It's not selfish to want to bake.

It's selfish to buy more than you need so other people go short.

There are plenty of ways to keep kids occupied other than baking.

Eating all that sugar isn't very good for anyone, anyway.

OP’s posts: |
raydeeo Mon 20-Apr-20 16:31:21

I live in the east of England and there has never been a time I've not been able to get flour. I buy maybe a pack a month for things like pancakes and Yorkshire puddings and every time I've needed some there's been plenty on the shelves. It's weird it should be fine here but the rest of the country is short. I've found eggs to be the thing that seems in perpetually low stock. You can get them but there's not usually the selection as before.

okiedokieme Mon 20-Apr-20 16:31:32

I always have baked my own bread and made cakes, it's nearly impossible to find flour now, I only have a little yeast left and and 2 bags bread flour (will last 10 days at most) despite having over 50kg in feb ;I'm a hoarder by nature)

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