The British Retail Consortium (BRC) says the demand for some food products has been unusually high following the outbreak of coronavirus in the UK.

The organisation said it has seen a steep surge in sales for longer shelf-life food products, with the BRC adding that the increase is: “unprecedented outside of the Christmas period.”

A statement on the BRC website said: “Our members are working hard to ensure consumers have access to the products they need. Even where there are challenges, retailers are well-versed in providing effective measures to keep retail sites running smoothly, and they are working with suppliers to increase the supply of goods.

“While there is plenty of stock available, the challenge for retailers has been to make sure all of it reaches shelves at the earliest opportunity.

“It is too early to see what the impact will be of coronavirus on sales. The situation will depend on both how quickly any disruption to the supply chain is resolved and whether the coronavirus truly takes hold in the UK.”

The news comes after a number of supermarkets, including Tesco and Ocado, introduced purchase limits on a number of products such as antibacterial gels and tinned vegetables to prevent customers from stockpiling. The Government has also relaxed home delivery times in order to ease the strain on supermarket shelves, with retailers now able to make night-time home deliveries for groceries.