Garrett: Meat processor shutdowns not likely to affect local grocers

Published 6:08 pm Thursday, April 16, 2020

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As meat processors across the country are shutting down temporarily as more workers are getting infected with COVID-19, there is growing concern among consumers that America will run out of meat.

However, Steve Garrett, owner of Piggly Wiggly stores 231 and North Three Notch Street in Troy, said he doesn’t see that happening.

“But then, I haven’ seen a lot of things coming,” Garrett said, with a laugh.

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“At the beginning of COVID-19, there was a big rush for meat and we had to struggle at the meat counter. Customers were buying meat to put in their freezers and we had a hard time keeping up with the demand.”

Garrett said the demand for meat has slowed somewhat because of meat on hand. However, with the temporary closing of meat processors, the demand for meat could increase.

“It just depends on how much meat people have stocked up on,” he said.

Grounded beef is a meat of choice because it can be prepared in so many ways and it’s more affordable. But with the recent high demand, the price went up and up considerably.

Grounded beef usually consists of the leftover trimmings from other cuts of beef. but, to meet the demand, better grades of beef were used in grounded beef.

So, as the demand increased, the price went up, Garrett said. “Price is determined by demand.”

And, if there’s a widespread rush to the meat market, the prices could increase in all meats.

Garrett said the demand for chicken has been stable and pork about the same.

“We don’t know what’s down the road and how food products will be affected,” Garrett said. “Look at eggs — the way prices shot up. It was unrealistic how the prices shot up — huge and fast. It was a nightmare.”

Garrett said the price of eggs always goes up at Easter, “price and demand.”

“After Easter we saw a drop in price and then another,” he said. “Whether it was because of Easter or had something to do with the coronavirus, we can’t be sure.”

And, the fact that more people are cooking at home has had an impact on what is being purchased —more canned goods; more frozen vegetables. More of this and less of that will determine the prices in the grocery store.

“We don’t know what’s down the road,” Garrett said.

“But, if people don’t panic like they did with toilet paper, we’ll have meat in the market.”