Meat processors need more workers to help fix shortage
GASCONADE COUNTY - Seeing things fly off the shelves is becoming a lot more common as communities deal with COVID-19.
First it was toilet paper, and now it's meat. So grocery stores in the area are limiting how much customers can buy to keep shelves stocked.
But with plenty of product coming in from the farm level to be processed, what's causing the shortage? One Gasconade County processor said it's because of large plants shutting down across the country due to COVID-19.
"That’s why there’s a shortage on the shelves of meat products," Vicki Slater, of Swiss Meat and Sausage Company, said. "Suppliers are ordering it from these processing facilities, they might order 1,000 cases of something, and only end up with 250."
To make matters worse, local processors like Swiss aren't able to do the amount of work that those large facilities can.
"Small plants like ours don't make a dent in the bucket," Slater said.
So while farmers are bringing just as much product to be processed, many plants are struggling to keep up with demand due to shortages in workers because of COVID-19.
Now, customers are starting to see the effects, and for some, that's worrying.
“I’m very good about not worrying normally, however, it is a concern,” Nanette Flores Robuck, a shopper at Hy-Vee on Conley Road, said.
Kenny Brinker, a pig farmer in Auxvasse, said that the supply chain is delicate, and when one step falls, everyone feels it.
“The problem we have today is everything is scheduled to be delivered just in the nick of time,” he said.
Slater says that to avoid anything like this happening again in the future, there needs to be more medium sized plants to help shoulder the burden should the large plants stumble.
"There needs to be more medium, smaller plants, so if there's an outbreak of something, it doesn't affect such a huge quantity and portion of our nations food," she said.
In the meantime, Slater says they can only take things one day at a time.
“Hope for the best and prepare for the worst is all you can do,” she said.