Meat shortages could last another month, says president of local meat packing company

Posted at 10:31 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 23:20:03-04

BALTIMORE — The food supply chain could return back to normal in the next month, says the president of a Baltimore County meat packing company.

“If we were betting on this, we would probably say in the next two weeks to a month you would see the prices come back around and the products come back into the grocery stores," said Jason Trippett, President of JW Treuth and Sons.

Trippett said the country is currently facing an unprecedented meat shortage, where there's 20-30 percent less meat on the market.

Over the past couple of months, thousands of workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at meat and food processing plants across the country. At least 20 workers have died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cases have forced plants to temporarily close in multiple states as many workers have feared getting the virus. The closures have also led to a huge reduction in meat production, causing meat shortages nationwide.

“The food supply chain was setup to feed millions," Trippett said. "We don’t see it able to provide that much meat for millions and millions of people in the United States.”

Major grocery stores are scrambling to find meat because of the shortages, forcing them to buy from smaller producers like Trippett because he still has product available.

Shoppers in the Baltimore area are also seeing meat missing in aisles and prices skyrocketing in some cases "double or triple", he said.

“These are things that none of us have ever seen [and that] none of us thought we would ever see," he said. "And honestly, it's very scary."

As a result, business for the company's butcher shop, along with others in the Baltimore area, has been booming over people's growing fears of meat shortages.

“Most of the people are coming in are looking down the line for the next two to three weeks maybe month saying we want to make sure we have food for our families," he said.

Although he predicts the nation's food supply will get better soon, Trippett said he's worried there's a chance a second wave of the virus could shutter plants once again.

"It's a hard prediction because at any point in time you can have a hotspot, things can spike back up and you can have the same amount of problems we have right now," he said.

JW Treuth and Sons, which has about 50 employees and processes more than 100 cattle a day, hasn't had a case of the coronavirus.

Trippett said they have been following health department guidelines and taking necessary precautions. He said their staff size also makes it easier to social distance compared to bigger processors with a larger workforce.