I am old enough to remember the "Where's the beef" Wendy's commercials from the 1980's. Those little old gray-haired ladies, trying to get hamburgers, which usually had very little meat, and one old lady always asking "Where's the beef ?"
Today that question is being asked along with "Where's the pork," and "Where's the chicken," as grocery stores aren't able to keep their meat shelves full.
We have seen how the forced shutdowns of schools, businesses and many restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic has left farmers and ranchers with a surplus of harvests because the orders, the demand, has dried up. Vegetable and fruit crops having to be destroyed is only one part of the food shortage equation.
We are now seeing report after report after report highlighting the issue of grocery stores not being able to keep their meat department stocked.
Almost a third of U.S. pork capacity is down, the first big poultry plants closed on Friday and experts are warning that domestic shortages are just weeks away. Brazil, the world’s No. 1 shipper of chicken and beef, saw its first major closure with the halt of a poultry plant owned by JBS SA, the world’s biggest meat company. Key operations are also down in Canada, the latest being a British Columbia poultry plant.
While hundreds of plants in the Americas are still running, the staggering acceleration of supply disruptions is now raising questions over global shortfalls. Taken together, the U.S., Brazil and Canada account for about 65% of world meat trade.
“It’s absolutely unprecedented,” said Brett Stuart, president of Denver-based consulting firm Global AgriTrends. “It’s a lose-lose situation where we have producers at the risk of losing everything and consumers at the risk of paying higher prices. Restaurants in a week could be out of fresh ground beef.”
Another cause of the shortages, now and most likely for the foreseeable future is much the same as the issue with fruits and vegetables. While people are going hungry and food banks are short on food, the way the supply chain functions has been disrupted, leaving huge wholes in the ability to get the food where it is needed the most.
It is like trying to get from A to D when B and C are simply missing.
Independent Media sounded the alarm and warned that this issue was a probability back in January and February, and many readers took those warnings seriously and stocked up on what they could.
It often appears that by the time the establishment media finally catches up and starts reporting something, it is already too late to deal with it properly.
The most difficult part of supplementing what you already have to keep preparing is actually find what you want still in stock, or having the option to have a reasonable time frame for shipping and delivery.
We know this because we have done plenty of "back/still in stock" pieces and the hunt for items took far longer than anything else.
Some companies and websites have adapted and created methods to find things that are in stock, to help consumers with that search.
A few of those listed below:
NowInStock.net is a free web service that tracks the availability of hard-to-find items online and alerts you whenever these items are available for purchase at the retailers they track.
Markk is a crowdsourcing website where individuals find things in stock, or as they call it #StockedUp, snap a picture and list the name of the store and what hard-to-find items they are stocked up on. From what I can tell, it is a newer page and most the "markks" are in California, but I did note one in Arizona and another in North Carolina as well.
SupplyFinder offers a list of products from Walmart, Target and Amazon, and lets consumers know if the product is available or not.
There is also the option of online grocery stores such as Amazon Fresh, Boxed, and ShopFoodEx. They deliver and some require memberships while others have some expensive shipping fees.
Many reports claim the shortages are "coming," and some others continue to insist it isn't really a shortage, but that is a mere technicality because if it cannot be restocked, or the grocers cannot obtain it, then it is certainly a shortage for those trying to buy it.
No matter what terminology is used, meat is becoming either harder to get, or seeing price increases, and this will not be an issue that goes away once states withdraw their lockdown orders.
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