Shoppers stock up on meat, fearing shortage during coronavirus crisis

Beef Racks
Posted at 8:23 PM, Apr 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 21:23:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — About this time every year, Shawn Newsome spends more than $1,000 on meat to feed his family.

"They cut it up right in front of you, and it's really good deal," Newsome said.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has other folks stocking up as well, leaving some groceries store shelves bare.

At Bichelmeyer Meats in Kansas City, Kansas, where business has increased 40 percent, owner Joe Bichelmeyer believes shoppers shouldn't panic.

"We have an ample supply of beef and pork to feed our nation," Bichelmeyer said.

He also said that he usually is busy around this time of the year with folks receiving tax refunds. But due to the current crisis with COVID-19, there is even more demand.

"It's heightened the demand for big ticket items, sides of beef, quarters of beef, half hogs, things that people normally store in their freezer to provide food for their family over an extended period of time," Bichelmeyer said.

Fears of a meat shortage are driven by a growing number of major meat processing plants closing because of COVID-19.

Smithfield Foods shut down a plant in South Dakota over the weekend after nearly 300 employees tested positive.

"We don’t need the meat markets to go south on us," Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said.

In an interview with 41 Action News on Wednesday, Parson said he is working closely with the state’s head of agriculture to ensure local processing plants aren't impacted – a point he reiterated hours later during a news conference.

"The people that are running those plants are doing a good job trying to make sure those people have social distancing, making sure they're safe," Parson said.

Bichelmeyer is confident meat will continue to get processed and it isn't something that creates a shortage right now.

"Once we get through this glut of uncertainty, everything should moderate and be back to normal," Bichelmeyer said.