Meat processing plants adjust to changes amid COVID-19

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Some meat processing plants have temporarily shut down nationwide. With a new executive order to keep them open, there may be a change in what you can expect to see on store shelves.

Experts say, you may find your favorite produce or meats in different packaging, size, or still may be frozen. But it will likely still be on the shelves.

Employees At Larry Inver Wholesale Foods aren't packing trucks for their typical restaurant distribution. Now each box is meant for individuals buying groceries wholesale.

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"It was a complete 180, said Chad Inver, who is the third generation of his family to run the business. "We were serving 100 restaurants, now we're doing 300-400 people a week in Philadelphia."

Chad Inver says buying products like meat is becoming more difficult and more expensive.

"Chicken plants have closed up and it's hard to get fresh products, sometimes products that used to be fresher now coming in frozen," said Inver. "The price of chicken breast has doubled in the past two weeks. Even whole chicken has gone up tremendously, a 300% hike."

An estimated 6,000 American meat plant workers have tested positive or been exposed to COVID- 19.
President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday declaring meat processing plants critical infrastructure to keep them running at a higher capacity.

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"It's such an interconnected web in the country, we get our supply from factories that have closed in North Dakota, The Carolinas, from meat processing plants," said Douglas Fisher, the New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture. "We don't have meat processing plants here (locally). People in New Jersey are going to be affected if we don't get some of these plants open."

In terms of supply, wholesalers have had to shop around.

"Instead of one or two places I'm sending my trucks to seven or eight places in the morning to get the products they need," said Inver.

Experts are telling shoppers don't panic buy. "It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. if you think there is going to be a shortage, and you go out and panic buy, that's when there becomes a shortage," said Richard Wilkins the board president of the Delaware Farm Bureau.

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