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Salt Lake company explains why some businesses are rationing meat

Some stores and fast food restaurants rationing ground beef
Posted at 10:46 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 08:53:42-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Grocery stores in Utah are beginning to limit how much meat customers can buy, in order to prevent a shortage caused by COVID-19.Companies like Costco and Kroger announced that shoppers can only buy a certain number of some fresh meat items. Fast food chain Wendy's is experiencing issues with beef.

"Middle meats are fine, it's the grind stuff where the problem is," explained Raymond Zaelit, owner of Majestic Meat Co.

Majestic Meat Co. is normally a meat distributor for restaurants in Salt Lake City. Their South Salt Lake facility is usually packed with every kind of meat, for all kinds of purposes.

"We lost 85% of our business overnight," Zaelit said. When restaurants began to close because of COVID-19, Majestic Meat Co. decided to open their meat offerings to the public.

Zaelit said they've been successful with that, and they've seen an increase in sales recently.

It's clear that all eyes are on the meat market, as people grow concerned over the supply.

Zaelit explained that several meat packing plants have shut down because of COVID-19.

"The plants have some people that, the coronavirus has hit some people," he said. "Next thing you know, quite a few people get infected, and then a lot of people get scared."

Without those plants in operation, he said it becomes a challenge to find certain meats -- for example, ground beef.

The issue isn't the cows. Both Zaelit and the Utah Farm Bureau gave assurances that there are more than enough cows to keep serving hamburgers.

"We have these great product on the ground, ready to go," said Wade Garrett, Utah Farm Bureau VP of Public Policy. "But possibly not a home for them."

It's the process from there, that is disrupted.

Hence why some businesses like Wendy's, Costco and Kroger are limiting how much meat customers buy.

Fox 13 called nearly two dozen Wendy's locations in Utah, and found that customers can't order double or triple-stacked burgers. However, each location said they are fully stocked with beef, they just need to conserve the supply.

Kroger, which owns grocery stores including Smith's, is limiting purchases on ground beef and fresh pork.

"Fresh meat purchases are temporarily limited to a total of 3 items per member among the beef, pork and poultry products," the Costco website states.

Whatever you do, Zaelit urged, do not stock up. Turning this into the toilet paper hoarding situation, he indicated, will make things worse.

"You don't need to panic, or run out and buy and buy, and buy," he said.

Consumers will still be able to get their hands on beef, pork, chicken, etc. Zaelit explained that you just might not be able to get the exact cut you were looking for.

"We hear some things are hard to get, but we'll make due," Zaelit said, of his business. "And if we only can get the certain cuts of beef, that's what we'll sell until we get the other one."