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Local grocery stores may benefit off meat shortages due to plant closures

Posted at 11:27 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 23:33:42-04

OHIO CITY, Ohio — Across the country, meat processing plants are closing while struggling to keep up with a spike in demand as more employees fall ill to COVID-19.

Tyson Foods and several other suppliers are warning about shortages, fewer meat selections and possibly higher prices at the grocery store. According to North American Meat Institute spokesperson Eric Mittenthal, we could begin to see those changes over the next month or so.

“The industry as a whole has been taking numerous steps to try to keep those folks safe,” he said. “They’ve shut down to ensure workers are not going to continue to get sick at the plant and give them an opportunity to recover at home.”

Mittenthal says about 520,000 people make up the industry’s packing and processing facilities. He says they are following CDC guidelines in effort to keep workers safe, which includes performing COVID-19 testing when possible, taking temperatures and providing personal protective equiptment. Still, Mittenthal said the virus’ impact will change how Americans buy meat.

“There will still be meat products on store shelves,” he said. “People are used to having tons and tons of different meat choices available and not all of those meat choices are necessarily going to be available.”

Ohio City Provisions owner and butcher Adam Lambert says the butcher shop has been fortunate seeing an increase in sales since the coronavirus outbreak began.

“If it’s in the case they’re buying it,” Lambert said.

Lambert expects the shop to continue growth in success as customers begin to shop for meat that is temporarily out of stock at large grocery chain stores.

“We’re kind of vertically integrated off of one farm so we have control over all of our product from the very start, birth of the animal to when the meat gets into the case.”

As the shop maintains its stock in meat, Lambert hopes changes within the industry bring a new appreciation for small grocery shops.

“It is bittersweet it took something like this to open people’s eyes,” he said.

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