Shortages force grocery stores to limit meat purchases

VIDEO: Snohomish County experiencing meat shortage

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Coronavirus-related food shortages are causing grocery chains to limit meat purchases.

Even people who don't eat meat might be surprised to see how it's disappeared from many markets.

"The hardest part is that I'm ordering triple what I need and (distributors) are sending me half of what I'd normally get,” said Kim Nygaard, owner of Double DD Meats in Mountlake Terrace.

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Faced with extremely high demand, Nygaard and others worked 70 hours last week alone. She estimated that sales were higher than at any point in her store’s 65-year history.

“We were running,” said Nygaard, of the recent demand for meat. “As soon as we closed the doors, we had volunteers who would stay late to do orders.”

Nygaard’s competition isn't faring much better.

At a Downtown Seattle Safeway, a KIRO 7 producer was surprised to see a sign notifying customers that meat purchases are limited to two packages per household.

In a statement to KIRO 7, Safeway confirmed that it is limiting meat buying at stores across the Northwest.

On their part, shoppers said they were trying not to overdo their buying.

“You don't want to see someone buy $150 of meat, when you don't necessarily need to eat it,” said customer Frederick Baudart.

Nygaard blames the shortages on increased safety checks at food plants.

She says social distancing and fewer workers means meat production has taken a hit.

“They’re spacing their people so their production is a lot slower right now."

In Washington state alone, coronavirus outbreaks have slowed production at two meat processing plants.

The result has drastically reduced the amount of meat being shipped to markets.