Tesco has said that "significant panic-buying" in recent weeks cleared its supply chain of certain items, and forced the company to hire 45,000 new members of staff.
Bosses at the retailer said a 30 per cent surge in demand resulted in the sale of six million tins of baked beans, 3.3 million tins of tomatoes and 3.6 million packs of toilet roll each week as stockpiling increased.
It said 10 per cent of shoppers bought 30 per cent of products while it also reported stockpiling was most prevalent in the South East.
Tesco said operating costs could be almost a billion pounds higher as a result of the pandemic, with vast amounts spent on recruitment and expanding its delivery business.
Numerous workers have been appointed as drivers and pickers to help expand its delivery business.
Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, stressed that ensuring deliveries can be made to the most vulnerable customers is a "live issue", with the Government providing the supermarket with an initial list of 110,000 people to reach out to.
The retailer said it has increased its number of home delivery slots by around 20% to 805,000 a week, with plans to increase this further.
Mr Lewis said: "On the shop-floor I've seen a greater amount of change in the last two weeks than for probably about the last 10 years."
Rising to the challenge
Tesco said no member of staff has been furloughed but 50,000 staff are currently absent on full pay.
Mr Lewis added: "Covid-19 has shown how critical the food supply chain is to the UK and I'm very proud of the way Tesco, as indeed the whole UK food industry, has stepped forward.
"Initial panic-buying has subsided and service levels are returning to normal.
"There are significant extra costs in feeding the nation at the moment but these are partially offset by the UK business rates relief.
"Tesco is a business that rises to a challenge and this will be no different."
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