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Shoppers look outside big retailers amid possible meat shortage

Posted at 5:34 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 23:55:16-04

WEST MICHIGAN — Butcher shops are getting slammed with customers all over West Michigan.

Earlier this week, leaders at large meat processing companies warned of possible shortages due to plants shutting down, which is driving people to shop outside the big box store.

Most said they we’re slammed with customers trying to fulfill a big influx of orders, either with people stocking up or just getting what they couldn’t find in the grocery store.

Processors like Tolman’s Wholesale Meats in Hudsonville said while they’re well stocked right now they’re starting to feel the effects of those national slaughterhouses shutting down.

National shutdowns from places like Tyson Foods, not just impacting your selection at the grocery store.

Brandon Bassett, President of Tolman’s Meats said, “The cattle, the livestock, the hogs, they are being raised, they are being bred, but they can’t get it to slaughter.”

That means places like Tolman’s Wholesale Meats are slowly starting to see the effects.

Bassett said, “It has made it more difficult for us to get, it’s made it more difficult to get product affordably as well.”

Bassett adds COVID-19 has forced them to pivot from selling mostly to restaurants and food service, directly to customers. They have beef, pork, chicken, you name it.

“We are producing all that product and packaging it in 1 pound packages, so that it’s easy to use at home.”

They’ve made it easy to order online for either pickup or home delivery. basset says he foresees more customers turning to them or butcher shops to get what they need.

“The butcher shops are going to be able to cut you up whatever kind of piece of meat you want and have that high customer service,” he said.

That’s exactly what Margie VanDort has been doing for 25 years.

She said, “I’ve been able to get everything and I haven’t been out of anything.”

VanDort is the manager at Grand Butchers on Michigan St. in Grand Rapids and told FOX 17 they’ve been getting a steady stream of phone orders, but she’s not too worried about supply just yet.

She said, “If it gets to the point where I can’t get any of that product anymore, I go to a farm, I buy a cow.”

It’s a time where everyone may find a bigger benefit in shopping small.

Bassett said, “If there’s local shops that can help, that’s great we are a small team we have about 16 employees here and we are doing the best we can to keep up too.”