In this confinement period, flour has become a scarce commodity. For several days, it has been very difficult to find them on the shelves of supermarkets and other points of sale. In a hyper Carrefour in Seine-et-Marne, only one pallet was delivered at the start of the week while the shelves are empty. And on the drive of this same brand, for a delivery in Paris, only seven references out of 17 are available: most of the wheat flours (except one) have disappeared. Only the whole or organic flours, the most upscale… and the most expensive remain. And if at Système U, we specify “that there is no break”, on social networks, testimonies abound like that of Kim, #confinement D14 with a photo of a kilo of flour: “I have foundvveééé “.
Yeast and flavored sugars in great demand too
Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, consumer demand for flour has indeed exploded. “In value, flour sales jumped 179% the week of March 9, 253% from March 16 to 22 and 173% last week,” recap Emily Mayer of the IRI institute. Flour is one of the top 3 most purchased products in the various retail chains with gloves (+ 276%), yeast and flavored sugars (+ 182%) according to data from this institute.
Lucas Lefebvre, the owner of the online sales site La Fourche, confirms this trend: “As our flour sales have tripled, we have shortages of supply, and we are turning to new suppliers to supply us”, summarizes- he, a little worried.
“The momentum is extremely strong for several reasons,” explains Claire Madoré, marketing and e-business director of the Grands Moulins de Paris, which owns the Francine brand, market leader: “Not only do people make stocks, but as they take now 100% of their meals at home, they cook more, make more cakes and pastry or bread. ” So many popular activities during this period of confinement, especially when you have children.
The mills run 6 days a week
Another element of explanation: at least the first days after the start of containment, bakeries have made large stocks. But the main reason is elsewhere. “The working conditions of transporters were not secure last week, transport had decreased,” attests Jean-François Loiseau, the president of Intercéréales, who prefers to speak of “scarcity” than shortage.
To stop it, many millers have therefore organized themselves to make employees work longer: “They now work 6 days a week and work in shifts,” explains Jean-François Loiseau. At Francine, “the opening hours of production lines have been widened by up to 20%, confirms Claire Madoré. We also focused on producing a few references: ten out of the 25 that we usually have, she continues. Finally, we strive to ensure fair deliveries by distributing the quantities according to the different brands. “
An important project for the profession has also been to secure the working conditions of transporters: distribution of hydroalcoholic gel, provision of toilets (those of restaurants, where they used to go, which are now closed), etc. “Some companies still have progress to make, but if everyone plays the game, the situation of carriers, which is essential in our sector, should return to normal soon,” said Jean-François Loiseau.
Finally, normal … “I’m not saying that there will be 5 full pallets at all times, but an assortment of flour on a smaller number of references, surely”, he promises, in unison with the managers of Francine, for whom there is no shortage in sight. “We have no concern with the supply of wheat, 100% French, which will be sufficient to meet demand,” concludes Claire Madoré, adding that a price increase is not to be feared: “This is not in our policy ”.