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Does Utah Have A Meat Shortage?

The changes to supply and demand from the coronavirus pandemic has caused many to believe there is a meat shortage. However, the shortages that consumers see in the stores are a result in the shift in demand for these food products

All over the country, states have been impacted by meat shortages due to processing plants being shut down and the change in the supply and demand chain. 

Store shelves in Utah are still low on meat, however this is not due to a meat shortage.

Dillon Feuz is the department head for Applied Economics at Utah State University where he does research on beef and cattle marketing issues. Feuz said, local grocery stores like Macey’s and Fresh Market are a part of the Associated Foods, whose main warehouse that supplies most of Utah is just north of Ogden. 

“If everybody goes and just buys a little bit more, you can quickly empty the shells," Feuz said. "So once that's occurred, if I'm associated groceries and if I say, oh, Provo is out of meat and all its Macey's, so I got to divert trucks to Macey's in Provo, then that's taking trucks away that normally would be coming to Cache Valley. It's just one of those things where the supply chain works great until there's a challenge to it, whether that's because of a supply issue or a demand issue. Up until now, most all of the phenomenon has been demand where demand went in and empty the store of some product. It hasn't been that the supply has been short yet.”

According to Feuz, 90% of Utah calves are sold in the fall meaning Utah cattle ranchers have not been affected by the  processing plant shutdowns yet.

“If in fact things straighten out through the summer, our producers may not see too much disruption to their operations," explained Feuz. "Cattle we can actually plan for when they need to be harvested. We can do things with cattle to lengthen out the time we can tap for their wean, we can graze them on grass or corn stalks or wheat pastures at a slower rate of gain.”

While consumers may not get the exact cut of meat they are looking for, processors and producers will continue to do what they can to supply meat.