Milling in the USA
The USA had ample supplies of wheat and flour during the COVID-19 pandemic, however they experienced comparable scenes to the UK, with supermarket shelves being stripped due to the ‘panic buying’ of products such as bread, flour and pasta. Again, due to logistical issues with packaging and the larger focus in the commercial market, retail stocks of flour quickly dried up with the increase in home baking. US company King Arthur saw their all-purpose and bread flour sales rise by more than 2000% in March, with overall flour sales up nearly 162% for the four weeks ending April 11 from the previous year. Similarly to the mills in the UK, Ardent Mills, situated in Denver, Colorado found their mills working at full capacity for 24 hours a day to complete their orders, due to the demand for flour in supermarkets.
Although supermarkets faced the brunt of panic buying, smaller mills were positively impacted due to an increase in custom. Small, local mills such as Moores’ Flour Mill in Redding, California and Cairnspring Mills in Washington experienced a huge increase in flour sales due to the lack of flour stocked at the supermarkets. The use of smaller Mills in a time of such uncertainty not only provided these mills with a boost in revenue, but also the opportunity to develop a customer base that could extend further than the current pandemic. Mills also used their standing to act as community hubs, like Cairnspring Mills. These hubs offer support to the community by ensuring bread boxes are full and keeping local bakers baking. This highlights the importance of Mills during unprecedented times, not only for supplying flour and other wheat-based products for food, but for supporting communities to keep morale high.
The Denver Channel, Denver-based Ardent Mills working to keep up with demand for flour, 17th April 2020, https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/coronavirus/denver-based-ardent-mills-working-to-keep-up-with-demand-for-flour
UPI, Retail flour supplies run low as consumers turn to home baking, 27th March 2020, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2020/03/27/Retail-flour-supplies-run-low-as-consumers-turn-to-home-baking/1791585256008/
Baking Business, Wide range of issues confront US milling in pandemic, 17th April 2020, https://www.bakingbusiness.com/articles/50801-wide-range-of-issues-confront-us-milling-in-pandemic
The Atlantic, Americans Have Baked All the Flour Away, 12th May 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/05/why-theres-no-flour-during-coronavirus/611527/
Adweek, King Arthur’s Flour Sales Rise More Than 2,000% in March, 21st April 2020, https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/king-arthur-flour-sales-up-over-2000-percent-march-coronavirus-baking/
KRCR News, Baking Bonanza: Redding flour mill finds new customers thanks to quarantine cooking, 21st April 2020, https://krcrtv.com/news/local/baking-bonanza-redding-flour-mill-finds-new-customers-thanks-to-quarantine-cooking
Grist, In Western Washington, a community comes together around a flour mill, 15th May 2020, https://grist.org/video/in-western-washington-a-community-comes-together-around-a-flour-mill/