A new online map will direct home-baking consumers to retail outlets where they can purchase commercial-sized bags of flour.

nabim has been working with retailers to create a nationwide "retail flour network" of sellers who can provide the public with bags over 3kg normally supplied to caterers and commercial businesses.

The resulting map means people can now search for local bakeries, wholesalers and supermarkets where the larger bags are available for the general public to buy. 

Since the coronavirus lock-down, a shortage of smaller 1.5kg-3kg bags on supermarket shelves has led to fears about supplies of flour nationally.

However nabim says that the problem is due to the sudden surge in demand for smaller sized bags, and that supplies of commercial flour have been unaffected.

Director general Alex Waugh says: “The problem, with regard to home-baking flour, is that ordinarily the market share is tiny – just 4 per cent, compared to the commercial sector.

“There is no problem in milling enough flour, but the sudden spike in demand has led to issues in physically being able to pack enough small, household bags for distribution to supermarkets and grocery stores. Retail packing lines are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week and overall output has doubled in the past month.”

Since the outbreak, nabim has set up an early warning system which enables its members to flag emerging problems before they become critical. This provides vital time for issues to be addressed both from the industry’s own resources and, where necessary, with the support of government or other parts of the food chain.

“The message to consumers is that flour is in plentiful supply, and there is now a convenient way of finding places that sell larger bags,” says Mr Waugh. “On the bright side, it’s good to see so many people rediscovering the joys of baking at home! Hopefully this will continue once the current coronavirus situation is resolved.”

The map can be accessed here.

Retailers and other businesses who would like to be included in the network, or would like more details, should contact nabim at info@nabim.org.uk

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