Coronavirus pandemic impacts on meat industry

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (wdef) – At Food City, there are purchase limits on meats, 2 packages of chicken, 2 packages of ground beef, 2 packages of fresh cut beef and 2 packages of pork.

“They’re able to get 8 packages of multiple proteins on any given trip and we’re really doing it to, to make sure that everyone has ample amount and all customers have to choose and pick what they want to buy and we don’t have folks hoarding,” Food City Director of Meat and Seafood Operations Steve Holloway said.

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Holloway said the meat shortages they’ve been seeing have been sporadic.

“We took a lot of product that was headed to food service in some of the cruise line industry and stuff and we were able to take that product in where other people couldn’t and process it at the store so it’s kept us in pretty good shape overall,” Holloway said.

The shortages you may see at your grocery store are from the impact COVID-19 has had on the meat processing industry with some plants having dealt with virus outbreaks, shutting down, and reopening under measures to better protect employees, but at the same time slowing production.

“A lot of these processors are trying to figure out the ways to both protect their workers and make sure, you know, our meat supply remains constant,” Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Charles Hord said.

As plants navigate the difficult task, product is high.

Hord said in the cattle realm, the U.S. has been producing a record number of animals.

“And now that we’ve got this kind of issue with our supply chain, we’re seeing animals backed up. There’s not as much demand from the processors. So our cattle prices are falling at the same time as prices in the grocery store or some of the retail establishments are going up,”  Hord said.

While it’s hard to predict the future, he said in speaking with counterparts in poultry and pork, they feel what’s happening is only a hiccup with no large scale shortages.