Grocery stores like Kroger and Giant Eagle are beginning to limit meat purchases at some locations

Grocery stores like Kroger and Giant Eagle are beginning to limit meat purchases at some locations
Getty Images/William Thomas Cain
  • Grocery stores such as Giant Eagle and some Kroger locations are starting to limit shoppers' meat purchases.
  • The decision follows a warning from a meat executive about shortages and as processing plants begin to shut down because of outbreaks of the coronavirus among workers.
  • As slaughterhouses shut down, both ends of the supply chain are starting to suffer as grocers institute caps on purchasing and farmers deal with a surplus of livestock.
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The novel coronavirus continues to shake up industry supply and demand in the US as it disrupts meat production — now forcing grocery stores to limit customers' meat purchases as supply chains waver.

Kroger stores in central Ohio, Cincinnati, and Dayton as well as Giant Eagle, a chain based in Pennsylvania, are putting caps on the number of meat items customers can purchase per shopping trip. Giant Eagle stores are allowing customers two items per shopping trip total between ground beef and on-sale meat.

The decision to ration customers' meat purchases was instituted as concerns about meat shortages grow and supply chains experience issues with production.

Not only did demand shift when restaurants and schools shut down, but now slaughterhouses and meat processing plants are becoming a weak link in the chain of supply as hundreds of workers fall ill with COVID-19.

A major plant that processes pork was shut down after 293 of its Smithfield Food workers were diagnosed with COVID-19.


"The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply," Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan said in a statement.

A facility in Greeley, Colorado also closed after a large outbreak where four workers died, according to a report by The New York Times.

As the disease takes a scarring toll on human life, it is also marring people's way of life.

Meat processing plants are shutting down because of the coronavirus and it's starting to affect American's supply of meat. Only a small number of slaughterhouses produce the majority of the country's meat supply. In fact, 98% of meat comes from 50 plants, according to The New York Times.

But the shutdown of slaughterhouses not only creates a deficit of meat for consumers, it also leaves farmers with a surplus of livestock. Some farmers have decided to euthanize their stock of animals because of the clog in the supply chain as well as the drop in demand from restaurants and schools.


While meat production faces serious problems, consumers can find alternative sourcing for meat besides the grocery store. Restaurant suppliers, local farms, rancher coalitions, and direct-to-consumer meat websites are ways shoppers can buy meat beyond the grocery store because these alternative options are likely to not be as hard-hit as most traditional grocers.

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