CHARLOTTE — Grocery store chains in Charlotte are limiting customers to two packages of meat and lunch meat in response to meat manufactures operating less efficiently because of the spread of COVID-19.
Stores like Harris Teeter are limiting meat purchases to two packages a person -- if you can find any. The meat industry is currently producing about 30% less product.
Channel 9 spotted a big sign at on local Harris Teeter next to the meat section, warning about the new limits. There are similar signs in the lunch meat aisle.
Walmart, Food Lion and Publix have similar policies.
The shortage extends to restaurants too. Some Charlotte Wendy’s locations, which are known for their fresh burgers, said they have a limited supply of beef while other locations are fresh out.
J.D.’s Smokehouse in Connelly Springs said they’re unable to serve their famous brisket because they can’t find any beef.
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“Basically, what we have is a shortage of workers going into our slaughter facilities and processing plants, because of the pandemic and because pandemic workers are scared to go to work,” said Steve Troxler, Commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. “Lines are running slower than they normally do, so not as much meat coming out of the plants. So, for perspective, we normally process about 7.3 billion pounds of protein in a month’s time, and we are running about 25% to 30% below that now, so there’s not enough meat to go around."
Troxler shared with Channel 9 some guidelines on how the department is limiting the spread inside the meat plants.
“I think some of the things we have seen done -- petitions between employees, Plexiglass, social distancing, eating areas and common areas,” he said. “Temperature checks into the plant and sick workers are not coming and spreading the virus. There is a myriad of things companies have been advised to do by the CDC, and they are doing this as quickly as possible.”
Troxler also talked about how consumers can help American farmers.
“This is a time that farmers need consumer support,” Troxler said. “Buy local. All of that money stays in the community and helps farmers get through this crisis whether it is a farmer’s market, pick your own roadside stands -- look for that North Carolina logo even in the grocery stores, so you can help local farmers stay in business."
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Tyson says it is cutting prices on some of its meat products. From now until Saturday, the company is cutting prices on some of its beef by 20% to 30%.