Feverish baking makes yeast scarce, but one local store is doing its part

A longtime community store in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s is getting creative to share its supply of yeast with customers, but even so, they continue to run out.

“I think because everybody is home and trying to find things to do with their time, everybody has gone back to traditional bread-making to see if they can make it themselves,” said Dawn Sharpe, co-owner of Sharpes Cash and Carry.

Sharpe said the staff split up 25 pounds of yeast into $1.50 bags — which would make three to four loaves of bread.

At noon they put the product on the shelf and by supper time they’re empty, with about 60 to 70 people still inquiring after it was all gone.

“We had people calling from out the shore, everywhere, because it’s nowhere to be found right now across the island,” she said.

Yeast shortages have been reported across parts of Canada and the United States. (St. John’s Morning Show/Twitter)

Sharpes has been around for nearly 70 years, and knows how to change with the times — even if it means going back to the old way of doing things.

“In a convenience-store business you have to do what you have to do when people are looking for things,” Sharpe said. 

Sharpe said they’ve reverted back to doing grocery deliveries, something original owner Ed Sharpe Sr. was known for.

“Back years ago, Mr. Sharpe — the grandfather — used to deliver groceries to anybody in the community that needed it. He was a big supplier of food for anybody that, if they had money or didn’t have money, Mr. Sharpe would make sure people had food,” she said.

The surge in popularity of baking has Robin Hood running out of its iconic yellow bags, which is why the company has started to use white ones. (Smucker Foods of Canada)

Sharpe has heard from suppliers that there may be more product shipped for Friday, and the shortage isn’t just in Newfoundland.

On social media, people are sharing tips on where they get their coveted yeast, and an employee of Marie’s Mini Mart shared a photo of a well-stocked shelf at one of its locations.

It’s not just yeast manufacturers that are struggling to keep up with demand. 

The most popular flour producer in Canada, Robin Hood, has seen increased demand.

The company says it has plenty of product but has run out of its iconic yellow bags to sell it in. Instead the company will temporarily sell its product in some stores in nondescript white bags.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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