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The Baking Essential That's Vanishing from Grocery Store Shelves

The coronavirus has caused serious kinks in the food supply chain.
glass jars of flour

The coronavirus outbreak has led to serious kinks in the global food supply chain for a number of reasons: Shuttered meat plants, panicked shopping, and closed restaurants are just a few. However, there's one noticeable shortage you may have noticed that has a much more peculiar reason behind it.

According to multiple reports, all-purpose flour—and any kind of flour, really—is becoming increasingly difficult to find at grocery stores around the country. The demand for the essential baking need has spiked so high as a result of the shelter-at-home baking craze that has swept the nation.

It seems one of the most common ways that many have coped with the stay-at-home and self-quarantine guidelines has been baking their own bread. If you're on social media, you've likely seen pictures of home-baked bread replacing photos of professionally prepared plates at local restaurants. Baking at home is the new food trend, and everyone's in on it.

Related: The Top 10 Most Searched Recipes on Bing During Lockdown

Matt Cox, vice president of marketing at Bob's Red Mill, made clear to the Huffington Post that the flour shortage is really just a case of increased demand. "So many folks have been taking up baking since the pandemic, whether to relieve stress, for entertainment, or out of purely practical need."

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"As a result of this surging trend, staple baking ingredients like flour and yeast may be hard to come by."

"Despite how it may seem, there is actually plenty of flour―just high demand with the dramatic increase in home baking," King Arthur Flour's Carey Underwood told HuffPost. "People who used to bake a few times a month are now baking a few times per week."

Some restaurant and food service suppliers have creatively addressed the spike in demand for flour and have begun divvying up 50-pound bags of flour (that are currently lying unused at cafeterias, hotels, and the like) to sell more home-friendly amounts. To also help meet the demand, a 1000-year-old flour mill in England has come back into service after a roughly 50-year break.

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So, while everyone appears to be taking solace during this time by baking their own bread, it has also caused a nerve-wracking scarcity of flour. Perhaps it's time for a new cook-at-home trend to get through what's left of the lockdown so flour supply levels can return to normal. In the meantime, maybe cool it on these other foods that everyone else is also buying at Trader Joe's.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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