Meat plant closures hit South with shortages at fast-food restaurants and food banks

Around the South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — The recent closures of meat processing plants due to the coronavirus is starting to have an impact in the South.

The closures lead to Wendy’s taking its signature hamburger off the menu at some locations.

A sign at a Midtown Memphis location warned customers that some items were unavailable but they were still serving burgers on Tuesday afternoon.

But some people have complained to WREG about not being able to get certain items at other locations in the area.

Wendy’s released a statement saying in part “… We continue to supply burgers to all of our restaurants … However, some of our menu items may be temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 4,000 workers at 115 meatpacking plants tested positive for COVID-19. It’s reportedly halted 25% of pork production and 10% of beef production.

Cathy Pope, President and CEO of the Mid-South Food Bank, says the halt in production could soon have a bigger impact.

“We are having to purchase more food,” Pope said. “If the price is too high for certain types of meat, we’re not going to be able to do that.”

The Mid-South Food Bank says it is expecting some delays due to supply chain problems. It has orders out but due to the nationwide demand, it has only received about 60% of the food.

“We are doing a great job of finding those different protein avenues like peanut butter and beans,” Pope said.

Pope says the food bank has been distributing nearly a million pounds of food a week during the pandemic and she believes it will continue for the next six to 12 months.

Grocery stores are also limiting meat purchases.

Kroger says its stores are imposing some limitations on ground beef and fresh pork at some stores. Costco said its restricting customers on the amount they can buy.

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