© Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Major supermarket chains are increasing supplies of bread and other essential foodstuffs amid evidence of widespread panic-buying in advance of Storm Emma.

Shoppers across the country reported difficulties in buying food items due to a massive increase in demand sparked by the prospect of extreme weather later this week.

Tesco Ireland said its stores have been very busy as customers stock up on core grocery essentials in advance of the adverse weather due to hit Ireland in the coming days.

"We're working closely with suppliers to ensure we've extra stocks in stores tomorrow to cater for customers who may be doing their weekly shop early," a spokesman said.

The company said it has worked with its suppliers to ensure a 20 per cent increase in availability of fresh bread and is also increasing the number of in-store bakes to satisfy higher customer demand. "We're also increasing stock levels of fresh produce, including milk, with extra deliveries arriving this evening and throughout tomorrow."

Tesco said it would encourage people to check in on elderly or vulnerable neighbours to ensure that they have sufficient essential items for the coming days. The company is working with its partner FoodCloud to organise contingency plans for the 300 community groups that it supports with donations of surplus food, in case they have difficulty collecting supplies.

On Tuesday morning at 7am opening time at the Tesco store at Roselawn near Blanchardstown in Dublin, just a handful of shoppers with baskets were picking up some basics before work. There was no evidence of a bread shortage, with still-warm baguettes stacked in baskets at the back of the store.

One staff member, who did not wish to be named, said there had been a significant increase in footfall and sales at the shop on Monday, with a particular run on bread, milk and bottled water.

A spokesman for SuperValu said the retailer had a plan in place in the event of adverse weather conditions to ensure the availability of stock in store during this period.

"We advise the public to contact their local SuperValu stores to check the availability of specific items," he said.

The massive demand for food supplies has left other shoppers bemused; many took to Twitter on Monday to bemoan the empty shelves that greeted them when they visited their local shop.