TORONTO -- Grocery store demand for beans during the COVID-19 pandemic is up between “500 and 1,000 per cent,” according to Canada’s biggest supermarket supplier.

Yash Karia, president and CEO of Agrocrop Exports, which supplies packaged beans, lentils, peas and other pulses to Canada’s largest grocery stores, said his company was struggling to keep up with demand.

“Sales are through the roof, we have supplied three months in two weeks to them (grocery stores),” Karia told in a phone interview.

“They want much more, we’re not able to keep up. I’m sure if I gave them six months they’d take it. People are just wiping out the supplies, we can only produce so much.”

Beans are a store cupboard staple and are being whipped off supermarket shelves faster than they can be restocked as people isolate at home for the coming weeks or even months.

Karia explained there will eventually come a limit to bean stock because it’s a crop.

But Canada is “by far the world's largest grower of beans and lentils” and Agrocrop the “largest private label processor and exporter of consumer packaged beans and lentils to Europe and the USA,” according to the company website.

“Eventually we’ll run out of some beans,” Karia said.

“We’re a little worried what will happen after three months. If people are home they will buy more. There’s a lot of customers just now, maybe after COVID-19 there may not.”

Staff at Agrocrop, based in Bolton, Ont., are working longer hours over a six-day week to keep up with the surge in demand.

“We have unlimited orders and we’re struggling to keep up,” Karia said.

The buying frenzy has also extended to lentils, Karia said, with the cheap and nutritious food with a long shelf life also in high demand.

In the U.S., the New York Times reports that the American Pulse Association, which represents canners and suppliers, has seen a 40 per cent rise in sales.