Chicken, pork harder to find in W. MI stores amid COVID-19

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you like to grill a certain cut of steak on special occasions, you might have to switch it up a bit this Mother’s Day weekend.

Like stores nationwide, West Michigan grocery shelves have fewer beef selections right now, and you might have to pay a bit more for the cuts they do have.

But meat department workers at three stores in greater Grand Rapids told News 8 the toughest products to find right now are boneless chicken and pork.

If you wanted to buy chicken at the Knapp’s Corner Meijer on Thursday, you had to settle for a bag of drumsticks.

The chicken case was full of ground turkey instead.

A Meijer employee said they’d been unable to find any boneless chicken.

The nearby D&W Fresh Market had some chicken, but no boneless pork.

The Family Fare on Northland Drive said it, too, had been unable to find boneless pork.

“The processing plants are slowing down, so that’s creating some disruptions to the supply chain, particularly as it moves through the grocery store,” said George Quackenbush, executive director of the Michigan Beef Industry Commission. “Consumers are experiencing, in some areas, short supply situations and really a reduction in the variety of cuts they might see in the grocery store.”

He also said the “majority” of plants across the country have slowed production – or even shut down briefly – as they contend with COVID-19 outbreaks among workers.

They’re also installing equipment to help protect workers via social distancing.

Quackenbush said that means consumers will see an increase in less-processed beef products.

“Customers might see more roast, for instance, in the meat case. They may see more bone-in products because that requires less physical processing, less workers,” he said. 

Quackenbush and other industry experts are confident the shortage is temporary. 

“We encourage consumers not to race to the grocery store and make panic-type purchases. There’s plenty of beef in the system. There’s plenty of product available,” he said.