The talk of meat processing closures is out and about today.
News has come out that meat production is being cut noticeably due to the fallout from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A trip to my grocery store earlier today showed meat to be in abundance. There was no run on meat, no panic, no large crowds in the stores. Thankfully.
Ground beef, pork, chicken, sausage, processed meats, all were in abundance.
That wasn’t the case a few weeks ago when I went to Walmart to find no ground beef, and very little steak, chicken, and pork.
It also wasn’t the case a few weeks ago at BJ’s Wholesale Club when everything was out except for processed stuff. I went back to BJ’s last Saturday, and everything was plentiful meat-wise except for, believe it or not, chicken thighs. I was dismayed by the lack of chicken thighs.
As regular readers know, I really like chicken thighs.
NBC News is reporting that slaughter houses are in their third consecutive week of reduced production.
How “reduced” is reduced? About 25% according to the article. This could start to show in grocery stores around May 1st, just in time for the upcoming weekend. Could.
What’s causing the slowdown?
For one, deep cleaning of facilities has caused some meat processing closures and slowdowns. That one is understandable. Companies are doing their due diligence to ensure a quality product reaches your store shelves. No company wants contamination to occur on their account. Bad for business.
Another slowdown is a lack of workforce due to cases of COVID-19. Rightfully, those people are being sent home from work to be kept away from the product, and also the people who are on the front lines and are healthy.
How bad will it be?
On one hand, a reduction in production isn’t good. On the other hand, some restaurants in some parts of the country still have plenty of inventory on hand, frozen due to a lack of business.
I believe the shortages due to meat processing closures will be largely regional in nature, just like the shortages in toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Those shortages hit places like Texas, the northeastern seaboard, and the west coast first. They didn’t really hit my location in Florida until the week after.
The supply chain lulls and then catches back up. I would say meat processing closures will be somewhat reversed and will be gearing production back up sometime in May. I’d look for a shortage, followed by another abundance, a roller-coaster that will last throughout the month of May.
Number-wise, what’s the story?
According to another story by NBC News, 10% of all beef production has been shut down, as well as 25% of pork production.
Meat across the board is also expected to see a price increase of anywhere from 1-3%.
Time to look local
Because the large processing plants are struggling, or even closed for the time being, farmers will have a lot of product they can’t move. This could be great news for local processors, especially if you live in a state not as burdened by shutdowns due either to government regulation or less instance of illness.
Local farmers tend to have smaller farms and their animals are given greater attention and provided a less stressful environment. This comes out in the quality of the meat, which ultimately rewards you with better health.
Happy cows lead to better meat. Plain and simple.
How am I taking this approach?
I don’t believe in panic buying in general, and I don’t believe panic buying is the solution here either.
I do believe in prudent buying.
By now, you should already have 1-2 weeks’ worth of meat in your fridge and/or refrigerator. If not, I would come up with around ten days’ worth of meals and buy accordingly. But don’t buy so much that you don’t have refrigerator/freezer room. Be careful.
Buy a decent amount of meat for now, whatever you prefer, whatever you can afford on your budget. Once one meal is cooked, go back to the store and get a little more. A little more every day or every other day.
If and when meat runs out, you have your 1-2 week supply to go to. In the meantime, keep looking for meat at the store.
First in, first out, aka “FIFO.” This is a rotation method called FIFO. Cook one meal from the meat with the earliest best by date, then replace it in the fridge or freezer with the latest-bought meat.
Like I said before, if your supermarket or market of choice is out of meat, look for local alternatives.
Restaurants oftentimes deal with a different supply chain for their products ranging from meat and vegetables, to cups and receipt paper. Look for local restaurants that have an animal-based dish that you like, and get it to go. You’re helping them try to survive this ordeal, while keeping your supplies in check.
This is also a good time to not binge-eat. Try to skip breakfast altogether. Look into a 16/8 method of eating. Eat lunch and dinner only, and stay away from the carbs. Fat adaptation, in time, will help curb cravings and will keep your meals in check.
In the end…
I’ll reiterate this again. There will be a stall in the supply chain, but I don’t believe it’s going to be something that we need to run the grocery stores on.
With most things, the answer is in the middle. Don’t stick your head in the sand, but at the same time, don’t panic or act irrationally.
As we saw with the toilet paper scare starting the first week of March, panic only breeds more panic. The toilet paper phenomenon is an experience we need to draw back on, why it’s a ridiculous idea to panic.
Again, consider local choices for meat.
Learn how to fish if you have a healthy body of water near you. This could be a valuable tool, especially in the long term if you’re starting to become interested in sustainability. I know a lot of people are right now.
If we all do this, and don’t act like knuckleheads, we’ll survive this.
Did you like the advice and observations I offered? Any advice you’d like to share? Please let us know in the box below!