In Mass., Stop & Shop, Wegmans, Costco Limit Meat Sales Ahead of Expected Shortage

Prices are up as much as 25 percent in some places and there’s less variety

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Supermarkets in Massachusetts are starting to limit meat purchases per customer in anticipation of a nationwide shortage amid the coronavirus crisis.

Stores like Stop & Shop, Wegmans and Costco are limiting the amount of meat customers can buy. Prices are up as much as 25 percent in some places and there is less variety.

About 5,000 meat and poultry workers have contracted the coronavirus at more than 100 plants across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We are potentially facing big, big shortages," said Anna Nagurney, a business professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. "This is creating huge shocks to the system from the farmers side -- the supply side -- all the way to the demand side."

Stop & Shop tells NBC10 Boston that they've been able to manage the problem by getting meat from places that normally supply the food service industry.

Charley Cummings, owner of Walden Local Meat Co. in Billerica, spoke about the demand for local live stock.

The nation's food supply chain has taken a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, and it's being felt in empty shelves at grocery stores. That's pushed some consumers to buy local.

"It feels like there's a paradigm shift towards local food that was already occurring that just got accelerated as a result of this crisis," Cummings said. "It really seems like it's local farmers' time to shine. This is their moment."

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump issued an executive order last week requiring meat plants across the country to stay open during the pandemic.

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