The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Where to buy bread near Mar-a-Lago

Despite Trump’s assertions, stores near him have it in stock.

A selection of bread is seen on display with prices in a store in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 29, 2022. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)
5 min

I am very curious about the last time Donald Trump went to a grocery store. I can’t find any record of his visiting one as president, even though that’s a not-uncommon way that chief executives like to connect to the common man. It’s unlikely he did so after leaving office, given that his move on Jan. 20, 2021 involved transferring from a fully staffed estate paid for by taxpayers to one paid for by his private company.

One can only assume, then, that someone is giving Trump bad information about what’s happening in grocery stores. How else to explain Trump’s assertion about shortages in an interview this week?

“You go to a store, they don’t have bread,” Trump said. “We’re like a Third World country. They don’t have things.”

Actually, Mr. Trump, they do. And surprisingly close to home!

Sign up for How To Read This Chart, a weekly data newsletter from Philip Bump

I’ll admit that when I saw this quote I was immediately skeptical. I have been to a grocery store quite recently and at no point did I notice a lack of bread, much less any indication that a bread shortage was imminent. But, hey, that’s here. Maybe things are more dire down in southern Florida, where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort/home is located. So I called a few places in the resort’s vicinity.

The first thing I learned is that the area around Mar-a-Lago is remarkably diverse. A number of Asian and Hispanic grocery stores came up in a quick search. I tried the Colonial Supermarket in West Palm Beach and was told to try back tomorrow to speak to the manager. My question about the availability of bread seemed to crash against a language barrier.

I had more luck with the Publix at Belmart Plaza, a short drive on the mainland north of Mar-a-Lago. (Here are directions, should someone from Mar-a-Lago be urgently seeking bread to buy.) I first spoke with someone in the bakery who found my question baffling. Did they have bread? Of course they had bread. They make their own bread. And, no, there was no point in recent weeks that they had run out, beyond specific varieties of bread. It’s possible that Trump meant that grocery stores near him had temporarily run out of challah, but that seems unlikely. The woman in the bakery transferred me to someone who could speak more broadly to bagged bread; she told me that she was not aware of any shortage.

But this was Publix, a giant chain that could probably rely on more robust distribution chains. What about a small store? So I called Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market, a more modest group of stores including one near Mar-a-Lago. (Directions!) The man who answered the phone was curt: no shortage of bread now, no shortage of bread in recent weeks. All stocked up.

In broad strokes, the claim doesn’t make a lot of sense. Supply chains are complicated, intricate things that involve pulling together various parts from around the world. But bread is not like a television where hundreds of parts might get stuck on cargo ships. Most wheat used in the United States is grown here or, to a lesser extent, in Canada. (Domestic bread production is a $49 billion industry, larger than I would have assumed.) Then you need, what? Water? Eggs? Yeast? The bags? Those little plastic clips? Even those are made in the United States.

So if we assume that Trump didn’t go to a grocery store and that stores near him had bread anyway, where did he hear this? Well, friends, I have a guess. Since Trump moved to Florida — which is to say, since President Biden took office — one cable-news network has talked about bread and grocery stores a lot more than its competitors. And it just happens to be the one that Trump watches most religiously.

This month alone, bread and grocery stores have come up nearly 20 times on Fox News and Fox Business. (You’ll notice that CNN and MSNBC talked about bread more in early 2020. That was when the problem was hoarding, not supply, and when the president was Trump, not Biden.)

I will point out that Trump’s comments about the supply chain didn’t end with bread.

“You go to buy something at Tiffany,” Trump continued, using an example with which we can all empathize, “[or] you’re going to buy something at a hardware store. High, low — they don’t have product.”

As it turns out, there is a Tiffany store just a short drive north of Mar-a-Lago. So I called and asked if they’d been having any supply chain issues.

The gentleman who answered did what I might have expected: he suggested I call Tiffany’s corporate office. So it is possible that this store in particular had some issues with supply as the world has adjusted to the coronavirus pandemic. I cannot rule out the possibility.

What I can say with confidence is that I think it is far more likely that Trump spent some time shopping there recently than that he did at Publix.