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Coronavirus: Why is baking soda flying off supermarket shelves?

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, baking soda is an item that has experienced a major surge in popularity among supermarket shoppers.

Customers wear face protection in a supermarket in Vienna on April 6, 2020. - As of today, April 6, 2020, it is mandatory in Austria to wear such protection in supermarkets with a sales area of 400 m2 or more. (Photo by ROLAND SCHLAGER / APA / AFP) / Aust

Baking soda has become a surprise best-seller in recent times, joining more obviously staple items such as toilet roll among the most sought-after supermarket products during the coronavirus crisis.

Baking soda sales double in supermarket Mercadona

In a statement on its website, the major Spanish supermarket chain Mercadona has revealed that, under normal circumstances, it sells an average of eight units a day per store of its own-brand baking soda, either in 300g jars or 1kg bags.

However, it says this figure has now doubled to 16.

Mercadona has supermarkets in both Spain and Portugal, whose governments have banned their citizens from leaving the house for all but essential reasons since mid-March, as they bid to halt the spread of Covid-19.

More than 26,000 units of baking soda a day

Given that Mercadona has a total of 1,636 stores, notes the newspaper The Huffington Post, this means that the retailer - which is owned by Fernando Roig, the president of LaLiga football club Villarreal - is currently shifting over 26,000 units of baking soda every day.

Baking soda can also be used as a cleaning agent

The reason such a low-profile product has been flying off the shelves during lockdown is its versatility: as well as its use in cooking and baking, it can also be employed as a cleaning agent in tasks such as washing fruit and vegetables or disinfecting household surfaces - a very handy quality, given the importance of hygiene in curbing the spread of Covid-19.

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