Kroger and Costco Are Limiting Certain Meat Purchases as Supply Challenges Increase
If you’ve been keeping up with the news about Covid-19 (recommended only in moderation), you might already know that it’s not a great time for meat production. Processing plants are closing down amid positive cases, encouraging President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act for reasons that would seem to have less to do with public safety than a steady meat supply.
Now, it looks like some grocery stores will begin limiting meat purchases in an effort to ensure availability for customers.
On May 3, Kroger issued a statement announcing that it would place purchase limits on its fresh pork and ground beef at “select stores.” The company did not immediately specify what those limits would be.
Costco, however, was more specific with its meat limits. In an announcement posted to their website on May 4, the big box retailer said it would temporarily limit purchases of beef, pork and poultry products to a total of 3 items per Costco member.
Though the institution of such limits might be cause for alarm to some, Kroger took steps to reiterate that this is a cautionary move that only affects pork and ground beef.
“We feel good about our ability to maintain a broad assortment of meat and seafood for our customers because we purchase protein from a diverse network of suppliers,” the company said in a statement issued to Delish. “There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges.”
The decision by both retailers comes after major processing plants in multiple states temporarily closed in April. Smithfield had to suspend operations at its Sioux Falls, South Dakota plant, which was responsible for between four and five percent of all US pork production, after more than 300 employees tested positive for COVID-19. A week later, Tyson announced it would temporarily close down a facility in Waterloo, Iowa after a significant number of positive tests.
It’s hard to say what kind of impact the Defense Production Act could have on restoring production to its usual levels. Meat processing plants will need significant cleanings, widespread testing of employees, and perhaps reduced workforces if they hope to operate safely and responsibly. It’s worth noting, though, that the CDC believes that any transmission of Covid-19 through food is “unlikely.”
The only thing we now know is that concerns about supply will start to affect what consumers can purchase. So if you’ve ever considered trying out a vegetarian diet, now might be a pretty good time to start.