Anticipating a nationwide shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic, some supermarkets in Massachusetts are starting to limit meat purchases per customer.
These limitations come after beef production dropped 25% and pork declined by 15% from a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA also anticipates that beef, chicken, and pork prices will climb between 1 and 3 percent over the course of this year.
In an effort to fend off shortages, President Donald Trump recently announced an executive order directing U.S. meat plants to remain open during the pandemic.
The executive order presented social distancing guidelines to ensure safety, yet since April 27, 20 meat and poultry plant workers have died and another 4,913 from 115 different plants have tested positive with the coronavirus, according to a report from the CDC.
As these national shortages loom, they’re beginning to affect the meat aisles of local supermarkets.
Here’s a rundown of which stores are currently limiting their meat supplies:
To ensure more members are able to purchase what they need, Costco has temporarily limited fresh meat purchases to three items per member. This limit applies to beef, pork, and poultry products.
Buyers and suppliers are working hard to provide more essential and high demand merchandise as the COVID-19 crisis continues, according to the store’s website.
Customers are currently limited to two packages of each type of meat per customer. This limit applies to bacon, beef, raw chicken, ground beef, and pork, according to the store’s website.
Wegmans noted how these limitations will ensure that the store can minimize out-of-stock items.
Arthur Ackles, vice president of merchandising and buying at Roche Bros. Supermarkets told WBUR that the company is starting to face some supply issues that are affecting how much product is in each store.
To combat the issue, Ackles told the radio station that Roche Bros. is now limiting meat to two packages of each type per customer for the foreseeable future.
Stop & Shop
Even though the store hasn’t experienced any lack in meat products, the heightened attention around plant closures and the meat supply has led to an increased demand among customers, the company said in a statement.
To ensure meat is available for as many customers as possible, Stop & Shop set a limit of two of each item per customer. Stop & Shop said this limit may vary between each store based on availability, and for home delivery customers, the limit is two packages each of chicken, beef, pork, and turkey.
“While we have been working through a small number of plant closures, none of our suppliers have been closed for a significant period of time. We remain in close contact with our suppliers to ensure we have product coming to our stores each day,” Stop & Shop said in a statement, noting that they have transitioned to alternative sources of meat supplies. “Many of our major suppliers are also supporting the food service industry and as that demand has decreased, they’ve been able to increase production for our stores.”
As nationwide demands are putting pressure on product supplies, certain types of meat will be limited per customer for the next several weeks, President and CEO of the chain Arthur T. Demoulas said in a public update.
“Due to nationwide production issues currently affecting the meat industry, we have been informed that supply will be limited over the next several weeks, which will affect all retailers,” Demoulas said. “Please know that our purchasing team will continue to work diligently on product procurement and that we will be placing limits on certain items to maximize availability to our valued customers.”
Market Basket did not immediately respond to an email from Boston.com asking for more information on what specific limits will be in place.
This is a developing story — check back with Boston.com for more updates.