With everyone in the UK currently confined to their homes as lockdown continues, many have been filling their time by baking.
The popularity of baking has seen demand for flour soar, making it particularly difficult to get hold of in stores - but now two supermarkets have come up with a clever solution for the shortage.
What are Asda and Morrisons doing?
Asda and Morrisons are now selling flour to customers in packets, straight from their own bakeries, according to MyLondon.
In Morrisons, customers can buy a 1kg bag of white bread flour, wholemeal bread flour, plain flour, or self-raising flour for just 60p each.
The 16kg bags of white bread flour, plain flour or self-raising flour will cost £9, while bags of bakery yeast will be available for 20p.
The bags of flour are available from the 450 Morrisons’ stores across the country that have their own in-store bakeries, with the idea being introduced in response to customer demand.
Similarly, Asda is also allowing shoppers to buy flour in bags from its bakeries, with a 1kg bag of plain white flour priced at 60p each. Shoppers can pick a bag up at the bakery in their local store.
Why is there a flour shortage?
A rise in the number of people who are home baking appears to be contributing to the shortage of flour in supermarkets, although a lack of supply is not the problem.
The issue is not being able to mill enough flour, but rather the mills don’t have enough capacity to pack enough of it into bags for supermarkets.
The National Association of British and Irish Millers (NABIM) said the industry is “working round the clock” seven days a week in an effort to double production, although it is still struggling to meet demand.
Only around four per cent of flour in the UK is sold through shops and supermarkets, according to NABIM, with the majority of flour produced in bulk and then delivered in tankers, or bags, of more than 16kg to bakeries and food manufacturers.
Alex Waugh, director of NABIM, said packing lines are now running at maximum capacity, but this is still only producing enough for 15 per cent of households to buy a bag of flour per week.
And existing packing lines cannot easily be adapted to produce smaller retail bags, as the industry is geared towards distributing at scale.
Can I buy flour elsewhere?
If you are struggling to track down any flour in the supermarkets, there are some retailers online that still have some stock:
Healthy Supplies has a wide range of options, including wheat, corn, rice, buckwheat and pasta flour.
Buy Wholefoods Online also has stock available, with bread flour, gluten free flour, nut and specialist flour all on offer.