To say the coronavirus outbreak has changed the way we shop would be a vast understatement. In January, the terms “social distancing” and “quarantine” meant relatively little in the context of our everyday lives—and there was plenty of toilet paper to go around. Now, we’re standing six feet apart from each other and fruitlessly searching for paper goods.
Unfortunately, toilet paper hasn’t been the only item flying off the shelves. In many areas, meat is in short supply, and we expect prices to go up soon. Here’s what’s going on—and what you can do to keep beef and pork on your table.
Why Is the Price Going Up?
The short answer: COVID-19. The long answer is that the outbreak forced many meat processing plants to close their doors, ceasing production and eliminating staples we’d typically not think twice about finding on the shelves. The pandemic has affected production of beef, pork, chicken and more, and it’s estimated that prices could increase up to 20%.
Because of the shortage, certain grocery stores—like Kroger and Costco, among others—have started limiting how much meat customers can buy. The new rules vary by location and even by store for some chains, but they’re typically enforced in a “number of items per customer” limit similar to the way hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes have been restricted.
What Can I Do?
We know this is news that won’t be welcome to meat-eaters everywhere. First of all, let’s all take a deep breath, because it’s a near-certainty that these shortages will be temporary. Once the processing plants re-open, they’ll be able to supply stores with the products shoppers need—it’s just a matter of waiting.
But thankfully, there are options if you’re looking to keep on cooking. You can shop for your meat using online butcher shops or select less popular cuts of beef or whole chickens rather than chicken breasts. You can even look for meat substitutes (here are 10 of them we love). It’s been a trying past few months, but we’ll get through it—and eventually, we’ll get back to sinking our teeth into juicy burgers and tender chicken breasts again.