Bread, made of flour and yeast

Quarantine triggers purchase of yeast and flour to make bread

The demand for flour to make bread at home has doubled since March due to quarantine, and the demand for yeast is 6 times higher. In places like Istanbul it is already scarce in supermarkets.

Quarantine and containment measures decreed by the Turkish government to curb the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey have caused many Turks to change their customs and return to the ancient tradition of making their own bread at home – something that is nonetheless causing an increase in the demand for yeast and flour, to the point that there could be supply problems in some places.

The situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many daily habits and customs of the population; one of them is the way to get bread, which was previously bought in bakeries on a daily basis, and now for hygiene but also for having more time is being made at home.

This is recognised by Gökçe Küçük, a woman who lives in Ankara, who in statements to the Anatolia news agency acknowledged having even bought a bread maker. “We cannot go out because of the epidemic. Normally I would buy bread in a bakery, but now we have started to do it at home,” says Küçük, adding that she has begun to worry more about hygiene, so he would no longer buy bread in a bakery.

Aslı Biçimseven, a resident of Istanbul, has also joined the growing trend of making bread at home and also stresses that she is no longer considering buying bread in a bakery now that she is more aware of hygiene and virus transmission. “They (the bakers) put the bread in the bag with their hands, and some don’t wear gloves. They touch several different places with those hands. That is why I chose to make bread at home,” she insists.

Problems to find yeast in supermarkets

Representatives of the sector point out that in Turkey a drop in the consumption of flour at the wholesale level has been detected after the decreed closure of restaurants and cafes; but this drop has been offset by an equal or greater increase in purchases in stores and supermarkets for personal use at home. Only last March the demand for flour for private consumption went from representing 5% of total consumption to a rising 12%.

However these changes in habits are causing problems since in places like Istanbul it is increasingly difficult to find yeast and derivatives on supermarket shelves. That is the case of yeast for private consumption, which demand has multiplied by six in March, and it is expected that this trend will continue in April, according to Ünsal Yamaner, director for Turkey of the manufacturer of yeast and sourdough Lesaffre.

“Fortunately, bakeries are not having trouble finding yeast for bread,” adds Halil İbrahim Balçı, president of the Turkish Federation of Bakeries; however, he adds that if the quarantine continues longer, hopefully “there will not be a problem (of yeast shortage) in supermarkets.”