Whitstable mum in custard shortage
A MUM of three is dis-custard after a hunt for the dessert sauce in the town proved fruitless.
Keen baker Jules Serkin, 43, of West Cliff, Whitstable, needed a tin of custard powder to top off her apple and blackcurrant crumble.
But she was left with a sour taste in her mouth after getting no joy in either Co-ops at Oxford Street and Canterbury Road, and in Somerfield, in the High Street.
Even a trek to Tankerton's Tesco Express - a corner shop version of its superstores - was wasted.
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"I try to support my local businesses, but in the end I had to resort to going to one of the big supermarkets to get what I needed," said Jules, a holiday rental company director.
"I feel very sad that I can't seem to get basic stuff from my high street, and am driven to go online.
"Custard is a staple product on my shopping list and I cannot understand why it should be so hard to find.
"An assistant in Somerfield said they'd had other shoppers asking for tins of custard, but it hadn't been in stock since the shop was refurbished.
"And in the Co-ops I was just greeted with an empty shelf where it should be, and no idea when they might be getting it in.
"I am upset because it seems these shops cannot order a product that customers are demanding as it doesn't seem to fit in with what they are selling.
"I had to resort to buying sachets which cost only a few pence less than a tin, and don't go very far at all. If I buy a tin, it goes in my pantry and will last me quite a few crumbles.
"I'm making an apple and blackcurrant crumble and, as I am trying to eat healthily can control what I put into the custard, like skimmed milk.
"With the sachets, there are all sorts of ingredients and additives - and you just add water to make it.
"It's very convenient, but not as good as the real thing. Custard should be a lovely comfort, nice and thick."
Mrs Serkin finally managed to find a tin of own brand custard powder in a Co-op, a few days after her initial hunt, but not her beloved Bird's.
Spokesman for Somerfield Pete Williams said: "Somerfield in Whitstable High Street underwent a major investment last April to upgrade and improve the store for local customers.
"We pride ourselves on our customer service and ability to meet their needs.
"We are a bit perplexed about your reader's trouble in finding custard in the store. It offers a variety of custards including: tinned, fresh, cartons and in powdered form.
"Today (Monday March 23) it has both Somerfield own brand tinned custard and tinned custard made by Ambrosia. The store stocks Somerfield Instand Custard Mix - to which you simply add water.
"Regrettably the store does not have sufficient space to stock the larger tins of classic Bird's Custard Powder - to which you add milk and sugar to make your custard."
A Co-operative Group spokesman said: "We are sorry to hear a customer is unhappy with our custard range in Whitstable.
"Our smaller convenience store in Canterbury Road has only ever sold sachets of Bird's custard powder.
"The Oxford Street store did stock Bird's tinned custard until recently but the product was withdrawn following thorough analysis of product sales across our range.
"This store does however, sell The Co-operative's own brand of tinned custard powder and we would be pleased to offer this customer a free sample to try."
* Somerfield is to become Budgens from May 11 - but all 33 jobs are safe, said Mr Williams. It has been forced to sell to ensure competition as Somerfield is now owned by the Co-op, which has two stores nearby.