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Meat Shortage Affecting One Fast-Food Chain's Menus

Some Wendy's locations don't have burgers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2020 12:35 PM CDT
Hog Farmers Face 'Gut-Wrenching' Decision
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/didesign021)

Despite President Trump's executive order dictating that meat processing plants stay open, the specter of meat shortages is being felt across the US—and customers of at least one fast-food chain are taking notice. Bloomberg notes that Wendy's has long advertised itself as offering hamburgers made from fresh beef, not frozen, a practice that's now made the chain vulnerable to a shortfall as the fresh stuff has become harder to come by. Some Wendy's restaurants have even taken their signature offering, hamburgers, off the menu. "Is this the part where I say...'Where's the beef?'" one drive-thru customer lamented. Coverage:

  • Store shelves. Customers may soon find it even harder to track down meat in supermarkets and warehouse stores—and even when they do, they could be limited in what they're able to bring home. Fox Business reports Costco, Kroger, Walmart, Sam's Club, and other chains are rationing their meat products, with an undesirable side effect: It means people will have to go out shopping more often.
  • Bad news on the pork front. Even with Trump's executive order aimed at reducing shortages, pork production is down 50%, industry giant Tyson Foods said Monday. Three of its six main processing sites remain closed, and the other three are working at reduced capacity. An agricultural economist tells the Washington Post he thinks the numbers may be even worse than Tyson's estimates.

  • Bad news on the pork front, continued. Modern Farmer reports that hog farmers across the nation are faced with a pig glut that may force them to euthanize their livestock. "Producers have never faced such a gut-wrenching decision," one farmer says. One factor: Pigs must be sent to slaughter before they get too heavy for the processing equipment, and they pack on weight quickly.
  • Feeding the hungry. Food banks are already seeing the effects of the shortage, but in Wisconsin, they're coming up with creative ways to work around it, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributing alternative forms of protein is one tactic.
  • Taking matters into their own hands. Some people aren't waiting for the supply chain to be back in full force—they're taking up hunting instead. Fox News reports on an increase in hunting licenses and permit applications in multiple states, including for first-timers. "People are starting to consider self-reliance and where their food comes from," a Quality Deer Management Association spokesman says.
  • How worried should we be? USA Today tackles that big question. "Experts believe meat won’t likely follow the path of toilet paper, with totally empty shelves and consumers clamoring to find it," explains the story. "Shoppers might find local shortages instead."
    A shopping guide. From what to expect on pricing to timing your market trip just right (i.e., when the shelves are newly stocked with fresh meat), Time has the scoop.
(More meat stories.)

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