A GROCERY shop has appealed for calm as it battles to keep coveted items on the shelves amid price rises and supply problems.

Bosses at Taj The Grocer in Western Road, Brighton, say wholesale prices of some goods have risen rapidly because of the outbreak of coronavirus.

Meanwhile some suppliers have completely shut down because of isolation measures, the business said.

In particular there were concerns over price rises for meat, where the store supplies halal and kosher products.

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A Taj director spoke with The Argus in response to claims from customers that some food items have seen sharp price rises in recent days.

He said: “I cannot believe you are saying this.

“We are trying to do our best, as a local business.

“People are in lockdown and isolation, so for people to say this is completely unfair.

“We supply foods from all over the world, and it’s a highly competitive market, so to

say we have put up the prices is completely unfounded and unfair.

“We are trying to provide a service, people are desperate and we need to meet their dietary needs.

“The elderly and disabled are calling us because they want their halal and kosher meat.

“If we can’t get that food for them, what are they going to eat?

The Argus:

One customer said this 10kg bag of rice is normally £5.99

“We are doing everything possible to keep supplying our customers.

The director said it was a “mad situation” and cited an example of the price of ginger going from £2 per kilo to £8 per kilo in order for him to continue stocking it.

One customer at the store told The Argus that the price of items such as chicken breasts have risen from £5.50 per kilo to £12 per kilo.

Meanwhile panic purchases across the country have seen shoppers clearing meat aisles at major supermarkets.

The director, who gave his name as Mr Khan, said: “A lot of sources of these products have dried up.

“What do we do? Do we just not sell it?

“A lot of people want to buy it, but the product is just not coming through.

“We are trying to provide a service, people are desperate and we need to meet their dietary needs.

“But no one is forcing you to buy those goods.

“People are panic buying, and we have tried to say ‘calm down’.

“There is enough for everyone if people were calm.

“The difficult thing to do right now is to source goods from all over the world to supply them to our customers.”

Mr Khan said the shop currently employs as many as 50 staff.

He said: “We are all worried about the future, and whether we will have jobs by the end of all this.

“But we are doing everything we can.

“For many years we have traded as an ethical supplier and we have built our reputation

for providing good value for money.

“We have had to start buying from other sources, with no supply coming through at all.

“That is the world we are in, it is a mad place at the moment.”