Meat prices dropping, while supply stays steady during COVID-19 Pandemic

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — While the Pandemic is impacting farmer’s pricing for pork and beef, farm experts say the supply is still there.

“We have a steady meat supply, our cupboards are full,” said Patrick Alwan, Co-Owner of Alwan & Sons Meat Company.

Patrick Alwan says Alwan & Sons is doing fine partly because they cut their own meat in house.

“We’re not tied to one giant warehouse like the grocery stores,” Alwan said.

But he says many grocery stores are struggling because distribution centers are dealing with staffing issues due to COVID-19.

“That distribution center feeds like 20-30 stores, they’re mega! They’re all as busy as get out, and they can’t keep them supplied. We have plenty of cows, the thing is, when you see these meat houses close, a lot of them took the unemployment because they’re going to be making more on unemployment than they are on working the lines,” Alwan said.

The State of Illinois has three pork processing plants and two beef spread across the state. The pork processing plants are in Monmouth, Beardstown, and Rantoul, while the beef processing plants are in Joslin, which is near the Quad Cities, and Aurora.

Due to COVID-19, the two beef processing plants temporarily closed, one for two weeks and the other for five days to sanitize before opening back up.

The Peoria County Farm Bureau Manager Patrick Kirchhofer says Illinois processing plants have been getting pork and beef from at least four other states. Kirchhofer says this causes the process of getting meat from the farm eventually to the stores to slow down.

“That did have an impact on our farmers being able to bring their animals to the Illinois processing plants. Plus you have the extra expense of shipping animals additional miles,” Kirchoffer said. “Animals in neighboring states came to our processing plants, which sort of created a bottleneck, ya know where do our Illinois farmers bring their animals? So some of our farmers are having to hold on to their animals longer than they normally would.”

Alwan says while the demand for hamburger meat is very high, the prices for the nicer cuts of meat are actually dropping.

“Farmers are price takers and the market decides what they’ll receive,” Kirchhofer said. “What the grocery store charges the consumers is typically up to them. There’s a lot more expense involved in a grocery shelf item. There’s transportation cost, there’s a processing cost, there’s a labor cost. There’s so many other factors involved in getting food to the marketplace besides the raw product.”

This is from many restaurants closing down or decreasing how much supply they need.

He adds if a specific kind of meat is out one day, you’ll get it the next.

Kirchhofer also adds that the consumers should not be worried about having different kinds of protein, as the supply of meat now is the same as it was before the Pandemic.

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