The unfolding weather crisis has crippled many bakeries across England, with Gloucestershire businesses badly hit, amidst scenes of panic-buying.
Janes Pantry bakery, on Lower Tuffely Lane, Gloucester, expected to be without running water for anything up to two weeks. "The flooding has drastically affected our trade," said Nevil Morse, managing director.
"It’s completely manic, we’ve been driving to and from the factory manager’s house with buckets of water, so that we can continue production. Each car run takes about an hour and we can only carry 180 litres at a time."
Morse said that, as soon as the nine Janes Pantry stores were stocked with bread, the shelves were stripped bare. They opened at 8am and were empty by 9am.
"If the water levels had been one millimetre higher," he added, "then water would have got into the bakery. It has been crazy. Instead of using sand bags to stop the water entering, we’ve had to use flour bags."
The four Janes Pantry bakery vans, which would usually deli-ver bakery products door-to-door within the Gloucester area, and its distribution vans, were stopped in their tracks due to flooding on the surrounding roads. "Gloucester is like a ghost town," added Morse. "People cannot get in to work and, last Friday, it took some of us eight hours to get home. I had to wade through knee-high water."
Because homes were cut off, panic-buying in the supermarkets and convenience stores was widespread in the areas that were worst-hit, with bread being one of the first products to fly off the shelves.
The duty manager at Sainsbury’s in Cheltenham, Steve Roberts, said: "It has been chaos. Deliveries are getting through - we’ve been getting emergency supplies, but they sell out as soon as they come in. Everything is behind schedule in the in-store bakery because the water’s off."
On Monday last week, the Sunshine Bakery, a craft bakery in Stroud, near Gloucester, was reported to be under between three and four feet of water, with no electricity or running water. The extent of the damage is still unknown, but its ovens and equipment were submerged. The bakery is expected to be out of business for some time.
The Environment Agency issued further severe flood warnings in the Midlands, River Avon and the River Severn between Evesham, Tewkesbury and Gloucester on Tuesday. Panic was widespread, as it was feared that the Severn and the Thames rivers would overflow and the agency described the situation as "critical".
Marketing director of Dawn Foods Maggie Dagostino said that personnel faced real problems getting into its site in Evesham, an area heavily disrupted by the floods. But she added: "Despite this, our site is on higher ground and accessible via the ring road. Because of this, the site has been unaffected and production and deliveries have not been disrupted."
The Authentic Bread Company, which makes organic bread, cakes, croissants and pasties in Gloucestershire, has had problems getting deliveries in and out of the bakery due to sections of the M5 being closed.
The company was temporarily unable to receive flour deliveries from Shipton Mill and hours had been added to delivery times leaving the bakery.
Proprietor Alan Davis told British Baker he was "very lucky" because the bakery had not been flooded and it still had running water and electricity.
Davis said: "I’ve not seen anything like this before. Roads are full of abandoned cars. Last Friday, to get home, I had to leave my Range Rover and wade through water that went up to my chest."