Survey Says... Consumers Concerned About Food Shortages – Including Meat
The pandemic continues to worsen across the country. Seems like every day America is setting new records. For the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Just about everybody knows this. In fact, we're tired of hearing about it. What we really want to know is how this will affect us in the coming months.
Will going to the grocery store become more dangerous? Even with mask wearing and social distancing?
Will store shelves become bare? As some did in the spring when the threat of the virus caused people to hoard? Will the meat supply chain break down again? Due to outbreaks among workers at meat-processing facilities?
Vulnerable Meat-Processing Workers
We at 4Patriots don't have a crystal ball. But we conduct a significant amount of research and keep up with the trends.
From what we can tell, COVID-19 will continue to spread in the U.S. and elsewhere for the foreseeable future. At least until a reliable vaccine is widely available, and very possibly beyond then.
That means there's a strong likelihood food processing workers will become ill.
Meat processing workers are particularly vulnerable. Traditionally they've worked side by side. Cutting, boning and trimming meat.
Food Supply Chain Is Shaky
Last spring, the spread of the virus among meat processing workers led to plants being shuttered. Including Tyson's biggest pork plant. And large facilities operated by Smithfield Foods.
Those shutdowns slowed production. It took considerably longer for meat to find its way to market.
Within the last few weeks, a number of states forced restaurants to shut down. Or limit seating or provide only outdoor seating.
With cold weather settling in, many restaurants can't provide outdoor seating. That means people will be more dependent on grocery stores for their food. And that will put an additional strain on the already weary food supply chain.
Shoppers Worried About Supplies
A recent survey was conducted by Menu Matters. It reveals what consumers are thinking about this situation. This is important because what people think affects their behavior.
The survey shows that nearly one-half of Americans are concerned about the food supply chain. With 98 percent of all meat processed in the U.S. going through only 50 plants, that's not surprising.
Nearly 75 percent of Americans are worried about catching the virus while getting groceries in person.
No wonder nearly 50 percent of Americans say they sometimes use either pickup or delivery services.
Trust in Farmers Is High
Nearly all those who responded to the survey said they have experienced out-of-stock situations.
Most of them were forced to get something different than what they accustomed to due to the lack of produce.
Almost 60 percent say they are concerned or extremely concerned about food industry workers' health.
On the plus side, 87 percent say they trust farmers to produce the food they need. The main concern is whether that food can find its way to supermarkets.
Local Facilities Shortages
Here's one of the problems livestock farmers face. Meat from state-inspected facilities can't be available across state lines.
To go national with their meat, they need to work with federally regulated groups. Such as Tyson Foods, JBS SA, Cargill or National Beef Packing Company.
Some of those groups have been accused of price gouging during the pandemic. Lawmakers are trying to make it easier for state processing facilities to become federally regulated. But it hasn't happened yet.
Rob Larew is president of the National Farmers Union. He said, "The pandemic confirmed something farmers have known for some time. There is a severe shortage of local and regional meat processing facilities across the country."
And that shortage of facilities can lead to a shortage of meat in grocery stores. Especially if more outbreaks occur among meat-processing facility workers.
Rationing Is Returning
During the pandemic, many grocery stores limit how much meat folks can get. Butcher counters have lacked their usual variety.
Some places lifted those restrictions as the situation improved, while some maintained them. Others are starting to reinstate those limits. That's due to warnings from health officials that the pandemic will worsen before it improves.
Rationing is the logical conclusion to decreased production. Mark Lauritsen is head of the food processing and packing division of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Here's what he said last spring.
"During this time of COVID-19, we have to spread people out… and that means less production." He added that his union will not "sacrifice these humans for the sake of a cheeseburger."
Don't Wait For the Next Meat Shortage
If you're like me, you don't want to be the victim of a meat shortage. Regardless of what causes it.
Many of us get a bulk of our protein from meat. We're concerned about how that lack of protein could affect us. Especially during a pandemic.
The answer to ensuring meat security – and peace of mind – is the 4Patriots Gold Medallion All-Meat Survival Food Kit.
Filled with flavor and protein, you'll get 68 servings of the finest cuts of chicken and beef that can be served with a well-rounded meal at lunch or dinner, or used for a tasty snack. Plus it's designed to last up to 25 years, no refrigeration required.
Don't wait until the next shortage to prepare: