Hannah Marriage is the sixth generation of the Marriage family, flour supplier to Waitrose & Partners, and says they’ve never had a busier time

‘We noticed the increase in demand about a week before the lockdown started,’ says Hannah. ‘At first, we thought people must be stockpiling, but as it went on, we realised – everyone’s baking. I think it’s a lot of different reasons coming together – this is a stressful time and baking’s a great way to relax, some people have more time on their hands, and a lot of parents are baking with their kids to keep them occupied. And then on top of that, we’re all looking for comfort food, and what’s more comforting than cake or home-made bread?

'So for us, and the rest of the milling industry, it’s all hands on deck. We’re running 24 hours a day, but the issue isn’t actually getting the flour milled. We source a lot of our wheat locally, so we haven’t had any problem with supply, and we can mill enough flour, but the difficulty is getting it packed. Over 95% of the flour we mill would usually go to bakeries and wholesalers who supply restaurants, and so most of our packing machinery deals with 16kg sacks.

'We’re running the packing line for the smaller bags round the clock, and producing twice as much as we usually do, but the demand is just incredible. We’re used to coping with seasonal peaks – sales of plain flour always go up around pancake day, and we see a spike in demand in autumn, when Bake Off comes back on and people start hunkering down indoors. But in almost 200 years of milling, the company’s never experienced anything like this'

'We’re really proud of the way everyone’s rallied round and pulled together. People are working long hours, helping out in other teams and generally going above and beyond. I think we’re all glad to be useful, helping to feed the country, and we know we’re lucky to be part of an industry that could keep going when others haven’t. And we’re grateful to Waitrose customers for bearing with us, while we work as hard as we possibly can to get flour on the shelves.