Panera Bread selling groceries during coronavirus demand surge

NEW YORK --  Panera Bread is selling groceries to meet a recent surge in demand for food, both online and in-store, created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Wednesday, customers can order high-demand pantry items such as milk, bread and fresh produce alongside their favorite Panera soup, salad or sandwich with Panera Grocery.

The effort came after Panera saw a need to supply key grocery items in light of grocery store overcrowding and delays in grocery delivery, Panera told FOX Business Wednesday.

"From limited choices on grocery shelves to the growing need to limit the number of trips outside of the home, it is an incredibly stressful time when it comes to putting wholesome food on the table, and we knew Panera could help," said Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary.

The pandemic is seemingly the perfect moment for online grocery services, but in practice, they've been struggling to keep up with a surge in orders.

After panic buying left store shelves stripped of staples like pasta, canned goods and toilet paper, many shoppers quickly found online grocery delivery slots almost impossible to come by.

With their national presence, the company recognized they could help fill that need, Panera said.

Customers can order groceries through the Panera's mobile app, online or through Grubhub. The items can then be picked up at participating cafes nationwide.

Panera's inventory of food offerings includes bread, bagels, milk and yogurt, as well as a variety of fresh produce.

Panera's full menu is still available via rapid pick up, curbside pickup, drive-thru and contactless delivery.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.