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Coronavirus and the Milling Industry

By Hayden Francis-Legg, Mildred Cookson and Nathanael Hodge

Introduction

The milling industry has been pivotal to many historical events. The situation in 2020 also brought mills to the forefront in a period of adversity when the world was placed into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the USA and UK, the lockdown led to a huge increase in home baking which resulted in shortage of flour on supermarket shelves. As retail flour usually represents a small percentage of total flour consumption, the large increase in demand for flour for home baking led to logistical issues and shortages in the supermarkets. This in turn led smaller traditional mills across the USA and UK to dramatically increase their production of flour. By late April, however, flour supply had returned to normal despite the shortage in the early weeks of the pandemic – which even made the national news in both the UK and America.