Coronavirus Australia: People are now panic-buying flour as stores sell out

After seven weeks of panic-buying stock levels of essential supermarket items are slowly returning to normal. Last month it was nearing extinction but now toilet paper is starting to sneak back onto shelves while both Coles and Woolworths have lifted restrictions on many items including fresh milk and meat.
But there’s still one item that you’d be hard pressed to get your hands on, with flour remaining largely stripped from shelves after panic-buying put “enormous pressure” on supply chains.
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Shoppers across Australia are taking to Twitter and Facebook to vent after having no luck finding the essential pantry product, despite in some cases searching multiple supermarkets.
The shortages come despite Aldi, Coles and Woolworths all limiting customers to just two packets of flour per purchase.
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“Has anyone seen any flour (self raising) in the supermarket? On numerous visits, hubby has tried various Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farm. no luck,” one mum asked in a Sydney Facebook group.
“Help! Does anyone know where to get flour? I just need 1kg. I have done my weekly grocery shopping but couldn’t get flour at all. I have been to Coles and Aldi in Waterloo, IGA and Woolies in Mascot,” another person wrote on Facebook.
A Woolworths spokeswoman told they understood it was “frustrating when our customers can’t get the products they need”.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented level of demand for groceries – including flour – in recent weeks, which has put enormous pressure on Australian supply chains,” they said.
“Our teams and suppliers are working round the clock to replenish stock levels in more than 1000 stores spread across Australia.”
The supermarket asked that customers be “mindful of others” and “buy only what they need”.
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Coles told it had managed to get a staggering amount of flour into stores this week to help meet customer demand, which had outstripped Christmas — normally the busiest time of the year for the supermarket.
“We have almost 200,000 kilograms of flour landing in Coles supermarkets this week, with some already on the shelf,” a spokeswoman said.
“We have also recently removed purchase limits on a number of products including meat, fresh and UHT milk, tissues and nappies.”
Coles has also added four pop-up warehouses and hired an 12,000 employees to help meet customer demand.
Aldi attributed flour’s rising popularity to “all the home cooks out there with a bit more time on their hands”.
“Our customers can be assured that we are working hard to keep stock on shelves and anticipate flour will be more readily available in the near future,” a spokeswoman said.
“For the most part, stock levels across our stores has steadied and we have therefore been able to lift some product restrictions.
“We ask shoppers to be mindful and only purchase what they need, when they need it to ensure everyone has access to essential groceries.”
Flour isn’t the only pantry item in high demand, with Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci revealing cake mixes were also popular.
“Two of our highest growth categories this week have been cake mixes and household cleaning products. A lot more kids are baking and parents cleaning as we all spend more time at home,” he said earlier this month.