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We should worry about a meat shortage!

Are stores in your area limiting the amount of meat you purchase? Just another new norm for us to deal with during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stock up if you notice a shortage in your area although less meat will lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Hamel, Arkansas shopper said she’s had troubles finding boneless chicken breast at her local Walmart or nearby grocery store.

When she does find chicken, she’s paying more to get it. “Meat’s kinda expensive anyway, but it’s gone up quite a bit,” she said, estimating the cost has gone up an extra $3 for a pack of chicken breasts.

Hamel’s story could play out in many parts of the U.S., as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the economy, hitting plants responsible for feeding Americans’ hunger for meat, and leaving many carnivores either struggling to find their favorite cut or shelling out more to get it.

“Are we going to have less meat for the American public? That’s probably going to happen this year,” said Len Steiner, an analyst at Steiner Consulting Group.

Concerns about a potential meat shortage bubbled in recent weeks following comments from Tyson Foods Chairman John Tyson warning of a “vulnerable” supply chain caused by meat processing plants shutting down due to coronavirus outbreaks.

Concerns about a potential meat shortage bubbled in recent weeks.

“As a result, there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” he wrote in a blog post.

“What the plant closures create is somewhat of an hourglass effect with plenty of supply in the bottom part and plenty of demand in the top part with the reduced processing capacity creating a bottleneck,” said Olga Isengildina-Massa, Associate Professor at the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics for Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Could meat hoarding start? 

Experts believe meat won’t likely follow the path of toilet paper, with totally empty shelves and consumers clamoring to find it. Shoppers might find local shortages instead. Another challenge with hoarding meat compared to toilet paper: Where do you store it all?

“People’s ability to hoard is more limited with meat because it has to be refrigerated,” said Joshua Specht, a visiting professor with Notre Dame University’s History Department, and author of the book “Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America.”

Top grocers are assuring customers they will find plenty of meat available to purchase. In a statement obtained by USA TODAY, grocery giant Kroger said it has instituted purchase limits on ground beef and fresh pork.

Do you think meat hoarding will become a problem?

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