WILDWOOD, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Coronavirus is causing a beef and pork shortage at area grocery stores due to closures at meat processing plants, but one local rancher has actually seen business increase.
“Business has been pretty good the last couple weeks,” said Matt Hardecke, who raises cows and calves at a small operation in Wildwood.
That’s because he sells directly to consumers. You can buy the entire cow.
“More people are looking for options,” he said.
Hardekce is sold out through summer as shortages at local stores are becoming reality, but the shortage is not because we’re running out of cows.
“It’s not an issue of supply and amount of cattle in the US, it’s an issue of limited ability to process cattle in the US because of COVID-19," said an expert.
Most of the 2 million calves born in Missouri each year are eventually processed in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. As production slows because of workers testing positive for COVID-19, it’s creating a ripple effect across the nation.
At Schnucks they are limiting all fresh beef packages to two per customer. Dierbergs is also placing limits on fresh meat products, including chicken and pork, something experts say will impact consumers' wallets.
“Even if demand stays constant, it will create an increase in price to consumers,” an expert said.
Hardecke’s herd will eventually be processed here in Missouri. He says the pandemic has forced people to consider alternatives they didn’t consider before.
“If anything, COVID-19 has taught people more to look at their food, where it comes from,” he said.
Hardecke says he’s already taking orders for September.
Not only is the shortage having a big impact at the store, it’s also a big deal in Missouri. which ranks third in beef production behind Texas and Oklahoma. When cattle can’t be processed, it has an impact on customers and the cattlemen that raise the animals.