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Grocers anticipate meat shortage as processing plants cut back operations

Last week President Trump signed an executive order to keep meat processing plants open.

NEW ORLEANS — One of the trickle down effects of COVID-19 could be felt at the grocery store soon. Several large meat processing plants across the country have closed or cut back operations, because workers were either ill or too afraid to come in.

Right now, there is no shortage of poultry, pork or beef at Chris' Specialty Meats in New Orleans.

"We have a great relationship with our vendors and they're keeping us updated. We're doing the best to keep our shelves stocked and right now they are stocked," said Adam Cutrer, manager at Chris' Specialty Meats. "It's business as usual."

That's good news since some meat processing plants across the country like Tyson Foods closed because of sick employees. 

Last week President Trump signed an executive order to keep meat processing plants open.

"They're all kind of saying the same thing: they're all experiencing a huge worker shortage so a lot of their team members aren't able to show up for work or they're having to spread them out," said James Breuhl, Rouses V.P. of Fresh.  

Meat coolers may be empty at some groceries, but according to Breuhl, Rouses Market is stocked up.

"We've kind of looked at this since day one and at that point in time started putting product away so we could guarantee supply," Breuhl said.

Across the country, Breuhl expects to see a tighter meat supply throughout the next few months.

"It has started to affect the pricing somewhat," Breuhl said. "I do expect it to affect pricing in the future."

Some stores like Costco are limiting customers to three fresh meat items.

"I think you'll be able to find product in the stores, it just will be limited in some cases, so there's no need to panic buy," Breuhl said. 

While the meat industry may experience struggles, Breuhl said we are lucky along the gulf coast, since the seafood industry is thriving and there is plenty of shrimp and fish available. 

RELATED: Costco to temporarily limit meat purchases to 3 items per person

RELATED: Rep. Peterson: 'About 3 weeks away from not having pork on the shelves'

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