Meat Woes Mount Following Presidential Order To Keep Plants Open

Costco yesterday instituted a limit of three items of fresh poultry, beef or pork per customer, Kroger limited purchases of ground beef and pork in some locations, some Wendy’s restaurants have no beef, and Tyson Foods offered a glum forecast for the coming months as it reported a 15% drop in net income from a year earlier for the second quarter.

“During the quarter, we witnessed an unprecedented shift in demand from foodservice to retail, temporary plant closures, reduced team member attendance, and supply chain volatility as a result of the virus. Despite these challenges, we were able to adjust our product mix and redirect products to the appropriate channels,” Tyson CEO Noel White stated  while expressing “confidence in our long-term outlook.”



Meanwhile, Costco announced “stores will temporarily limit fresh meat … to a total of three packages per member. You can also buy three of any one item. Costco, according to its website is imposing the limits so more members can buy what they want and need,” Susan Selasky writes for the Detroit Free Press.

“Kroger and Meijer stores started imposing limits on some meats days ago. The limits, according to Meijer, may vary from store to store,” Selasky adds.

“At Kroger, 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. There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges. At this time, we've added purchase limits only on ground beef and fresh pork,” a Kroger spokesperson tells Fox Business’ Evie Fordham. 

“Experts say Americans could see an increase in spot shortages of meat at some grocery stores. Meat processing plants shut down due to coronavirus outbreaks, with at least 6,300 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities as of April 30,” Coral Murphy writes  for USA Today.

“Concerns about a potential meat shortage have also bubbled in recent weeks following comments from Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson warning of a ‘vulnerable’ supply chain,” Murphy continues.

On the fast-casual front, “customers have taken to Twitter to complain they couldn’t order burgers from [Wendy’s], which touts its beef as fresh and never frozen in its marketing,” Bloomberg’s Sebastian Tong writes.

“A check on Wendy’s app showed that only chicken items were available for takeout or delivery orders from at least some of its stores in California. The situation has prompted a number of customers to ask ‘Where’s the beef?’ on social media, invoking a Wendy’s catchphrase from the 1980s that poked fun of the small burgers sold by other chains.”

Outside Tyson’s beef processing plant in Dakota City, Nebraska, CNN’s Miguel Marquez spoke to one of the plant's 4,300 employees, who remained off-camera to protect their job in revealing it was “clear there was something wrong at the plant for weeks” and that employees started getting masks -- and only masks -- for protection just a couple of weeks ago.

“When you hear the number of people getting sick every day, you just wait your turn,” the person said, adding a message for President Trump, who a week ago “ordered meat-processing plants to continue operating, declaring them critical infrastructure,” as Politico’s Liz Crampton and Gabby Orr reported

“I just want him to know that we are human and that we have families that care about us and we care about them, too.”

Meanwhile, MSNBC’s Steve Benen writes that the President revised his projected death toll from COVID-19 upwards for the fifth time in two weeks during a televised town hall Sunday evening. 

“Look, we're going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” he told FoxNews.

Still, the largest figure falls far short of “an internal Trump administration model [that] projects a near-doubling of daily coronavirus deaths by June 1 [to about 3,000] as the nation begins to reopen, as well as a rapid rise in daily infections,” The New York Times reports.

“The projections, based on data collected by various agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and laid out in an internal document obtained Monday…, forecast about 200,000 new cases each day by the end of May, up from about 30,000 cases now. There are currently about 1,750 deaths per day, the data shows,” Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eileen Sullivan write.

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