Grocery stores are portioning out flour from industrial-sized bags to deal with increasing demand

Baking has become a favorite hobby of homebound, stir-crazy Americans.

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By David K. Li

Supermarkets across the U.S. have been packing their own flour to feed the need of Americans suddenly obsessed with baking.

Regular five-pound packages of flour have been in short supply, so some stores - with access to massive 50-pound sacks usually sold to industrial-sized bakeries - have been packaging their own consumer-sized bags for customers, who have been making cookies and cakes to pass the time trapped indoors.

For example, national chain Albertsons has given the OK for stores to portion out flour from their own supply that's normally used for in-house bakery items.

"It's a supply-and-demand issue that we're adapting to," Albertsons spokesman Andrew Whelan said in a statement to NBC News on Friday.

"Customers are buying the consumer-sized bags quickly as they hit the shelves. The response is finding supply for the same product in different formats or from different industries to keep up with demand that exceeds the traditional way of how the product is packaged and sold."

Kelsey Roemhildt, a spokesman for food giant General Mills, producer of Gold Medal flour, said there's been a spike in demand since the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our plants are safely running at full capacity to support the needs of our retailers and consumers," she said. "The reality of the sizing is related to planned or available manufacturing. Manufacturing facilities who produce bulk items for away-from-home needs aren’t seeing the same demand given shelter-in-place mandates."

Baking-obsessed Emma Chessen said she reveled in buying hand-packed flour from her local Whole Foods earlier this week.

"Cried when I found this flour especially cause it’s packaged like it came from some old-timey Parisian bakery instead of the friendship heights whole foods," Chessen tweeted.

Jareen Imam and Diana Dasrath contributed.