Demand outpacing supply of fresh meat for consumers

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Where's the beef? Even Wendy's is asking.

A nationwide survey found about 1 in 5 Wendy's restaurants aren't serving burgers right now.

It's a similar situation in grocery stores.

"Ground beef! I couldn't find some ground beef!" said Brian Garwood, who couldn't find ground beef in his local market.

Supply for fresh meat can't match demand.

Wendy's said some of its menu items might be "temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment."

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The company said its delivery schedule remains unchanged, but supply has been tight because beef suppliers across North America face production challenges during the pandemic.

Nationally, the livestock supply is there, but a number of meat processing plant closures have shoppers and even big chains limited in what they can buy.

"It's definitely been different not being able to get as much meat and everything else," says Gina Mendes of South Philadephia.

At local stores like Acme, Shoprite, Sam's Club and BJ's there is a limit to the number of packaged meats customers can buy to prevent hoarding and sell-outs.
"One type of each meat per registered member," Erik Leiff-Finley said of the signs he saw at his local BJ's.

"If everyone doesn't try to hoard up, we'll be better off. Just get what you need for the week," says Garwood.

The CDC says through the month of April Pennsylvania was the hardest hit in the nation, when it comes to coronavirus-related plant closures. The state saw 858 processing plant workers test positive for COVID-19 affecting production at 22 plants.

If the problem of worker illness persists, the Delaware Farm Bureau says it is considering hatching fewer chickens to prevent waste.

"We'd rather have 25-30% less supply later this year than to have more animals ready to be harvested and not enough workers for them to be processed," said Richard Wilkins of the Delaware Farm Bureau.

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