Online grocery shoppers have a new option as Panera launches a new service to deliver or provide pick-up for basic groceries and options from its menu.

Shop-at-home services have grown in popularity during the COVID-19 public health emergency. During the week of March 2, even before “stay at home” orders began to be issued around the country, Instacart, Amazon and Walmart grocery delivery sales jumped by at least two-thirds from the year before, according to Earnest Research.

Instacart, a platform that partners with more than 25,000 stores in North America, says orders in recent weeks have surged 150%.

Panera Grocery will allow customers to order basic "pantry items" such as milk, bread and fresh produce for pick up at a restaurant or by Grubhub delivery. Orders can be made via Panera's website or app. There is no additional charge for the service.

“With this new service we can help deliver good food and fresh ingredients from our pantry to yours, helping provide better access to essential items that are increasingly harder to come by,” Panera CEO Niren Chaudhary said in a statement.

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The menu is limited to breads and bagels, milk and dairy which includes yogurt and a small menu of produce. Many of the items are already included in Panera menu items.

When a reporter tried placing orders from different Panera stores in Ewing, Toms River and the Somerville Circle on Thursday, selection was limited. None of the stores had any dairy products.

Panera Grocery said that like its restaurant offerings, products are free of artificial preservatives, flavors, sweeteners and colors from artificial sources.

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Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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