PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — First it was toilet paper and paper towels. Now, it’s meat.
Some people are buying it in bulk out of fear after reports of processing plants being shutdown. However, there’s no shortage, it’s actually a disruption in the supply chain.
On the door of Esposito’s Meats in Philadelphia’s Italian Market, there’s a sign: “Due to current shortages in the meat industry, please know that some of your favorite items might not be available.”
It’s a reality that many shoppers have noticed at their own grocery stores and markets.
Nationwide, meat processing plants have struggled with sickness, employee attendance and supply chain disruption.
“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s the value of the essential and for that matter, it has taught us what is essential,” said Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.
This week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to keep meat processing plants open by deeming them essential under the Defense Production Act. Despite this, experts fear it could take weeks before production can meet the demand.
“In Pennsylvania, we have been doing what is outlined in the executive order for some time,” Redding said.
Over the bridge, the famed New Jersey tomatoes are ripening at A.T. Buzby Farm in Pilesgrove. The majority of the various crops they grow are typically sold wholesale. With that no longer an option, they are among droves of farmers wrestling with how to market the same volume of products to the average consumer.
“It’s definitely going to be more difficult. I mean, we are going to have to have all these preorders and keep them organized,” Eric Buzby said.
Back in Pennsylvania, officials say efforts are being made so unsold crops do not go to waste. Dairy has also proven to be a complicated commodity.
“In the course of six weeks, we have increased consumption by 200% initially in the first two weeks of COVID-19. They have now dropped off to be 15 to 20% of what was normal. It’s still elevated but it goes back to where do we consume, what we eat and it’s now all in the home,” Redding said.
Shoppers have been overbuying these products, like chicken, beef and pork.
Officials are asking that families only buy what you need as some grocery stores are now toying with the idea of setting purchasing limits.