EVANSVILLE, Ind., April 15 (UPI) -- Home baking is becoming such a popular pastime during the coronavirus pandemic that baker's yeast -- a common ingredient -- has become scarce.
With Facebook and Instagram feeds filled with pictures of home-baked breads, cookies and cakes, companies that produce the yeast report it's hard to keep up with a surging demand.
"Customer orders are 50 percent higher than normal, and the need to knead has led the company to run its yeast plants ... at 110 percent capacity 24/7," AB Mauri, a global yeast production company based in St. Louis, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the companies that market and sell yeast directly to consumers, like King Arthur Flour and Bob's Red Mill, are out of stock and have sent notices to their customers asking for patience.
"By now, you've probably witnessed empty flour shelves and grocery stores and back-ordered items on our website," King Arthur Flour said in a statement. "Demand for these products has sharply multiplied in the past weeks, outpacing the speed at which new products can be created and delivered."
Demand for other baking ingredients, like flour, also is high, said Robb MacKie, president and CEO of the American Bakers Association, based in Washington, D.C. But it has been a little easier for millers to keep up with the increasing demand.
"Making yeast is a lot more complicated than growing wheat and milling it," MacKie said. "But, every day it is getting a little better. I'm hearing that yeast is right behind baker's flour. They're making progress on restocking."
Commercial bakers have not faced supply issues, MacKie said.
More than 95 percent of the flour, and a similar amount of the baker's yeast, produced in the United States goes to commercial and retail bakeries, MacKie said. That supply chain has remained strong.
"On the commercial and retail side, there is still supply," he said. "It did get a little tight at the beginning of the rush, but the suppliers very quickly adapted."