Here’s Why Flour Prices Are Expected to Skyrocket in 2024

Updated: Nov. 15, 2023

Don't worry, bakers—there are still plenty of ways to buy flour on the cheap.

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2023 hasn’t been a good year for food inflation. From eggs to oranges, many kitchen basics have skyrocketed in price over the past few months. Unfortunately, it seems as if another popular pantry staple will be hit hard in 2024: flour.

Here is everything you need to know about the potential flour shortage, including why it’s happening, when you can expect it, how much prices may increase, and my own personal tips as a food writer and bread baker for saving your precious dough.

Why Are Flour Prices Going to Rise?

In the United States, we grow three main varieties of wheat: hard red winter, hard red spring and soft red wheats. The first two classes are grown in the South and Central states, which have experienced extreme drought conditions over the past year, especially Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas.

Because of this widespread drought, a whopping 75% of the country’s wheat crops are currently being grown in drought conditions, according to the USDA. This means that huge portions of American wheat crops are dying, and those that are surviving the heat are often inedible or low-quality. Indeed, this year marks a record low in wheat production for the United States. And when any product is this short in supply with sustained demand, prices tend to skyrocket.

When Are Flour Prices Going to Rise?

Flour, Egg And Milk on white isolated background Photograph By DorisJ/Getty Images

Given the current agricultural cycles from winter and early spring, experts are predicting that flour prices will rise in 2024. It’s worth noting that there is still a chance that the third varietal of wheat—soft red wheat—will pull through and lessen the blow. Currently, it’s too early to call, but as of April 11, “nearly all major soft red winter wheat areas were drought-free,” according to Food Business News. While this can’t save flour prices from increasing entirely, it may be able to lessen the intensity of a retail price hike.

How Much Are Flour Prices Going to Rise?

Again, experts aren’t quite sure yet. However, one potential predictor of future price increases is the war in Ukraine. When Russia invaded the “breadbasket” country in late February this year, flour prices increased by about 55% in early March, according to AP News. While this price increase was due to Ukrainian farmers being unable to tend their fields, the retail impact of it may mirror that of a future drought-induced shortage.

How Can I Get Flour for Cheaper as Prices Rise?

Bags of Flour Displayed at a Costco Store in San Francisco, CaliforniaJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Now, as an avid bread baker, I have experienced the rising flour prices firsthand. Standard bags of flour that used to cost me just $4 are now ringing in at $7 or $8 (to be fair, I live in the Bay Area, one of America’s most expensive regions). Still, I consider myself a bit of a flour-purchasing expert—here are some of the tricks I use to save money without sacrificing my precious baking.

Buy in Bulk

Try to buy flour in bulk, instead of in smaller individual bags whenever possible. While the first purchase may be more expensive, it tends to be cheaper in the long run. Try your local supermarket’s bulk section, or box stores that specialize in bulk quantities, like Costco or Sam’s Club.

Shop Online

Many bread bakers swear by purchasing flour online. Amazon offers 5-pound and 10-pound bags for half the price of other retailers. Additionally, you can buy flour wholesale, as a bakery would, to really rack up savings. Some solid providers are Ardent Mills and Webstaurant Store.

Store it Properly

Finally, if you’re buying flour in large quantities, you have to make sure it doesn’t go to waste. Light degrades flour, so store it somewhere dark and cool—like your refrigerator! Many professional bakers swear by freezing or at least refrigerating their flours to extend their shelf lives. This is especially important for whole wheat varieties, which go off quicker than all-purpose flours. Additionally, always use an air-tight storage container so that your flour doesn’t go stale.

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