ROCHESTER, Minn. - A couple of months ago, outbreaks of COVID-19 caused widespread meat processing plant closures. With the demand high and the supply chain disrupted, meat prices skyrocketed.
“I’ve been here my whole life almost and never saw anything that could move as quickly as it (meat prices) did on the way up,” Terry Timm said.
In April, President Trump ordered meat processing plants to stay open. With those facilities up and running, prices for shoppers are now dropping.
As prices soared earlier in the year some stores began to limit the number of packages each customer could purchase. Butcher shop owners like Timm from the Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe in Rochester were left having to assure customers that there would not be a shortage in the supply of meat as it flew off of shelves.
“We never ran out of anything. I assured people that we didn’t believe that we would but that doesn’t mean that they just wouldn’t stop (buying meat in bulk),” Timm said.
In some cases, prices surges two to three times above the norm. Timm says those prices are already on the way back down.
“Ours already started and it’s kind of an ongoing thing. They went up rather quickly and they’re going to come down quickly also.”
However, there’s a catch.
“The only snag with them coming down is most of us would be sitting with product that we have too much money in as the market is falling, but we try to average that and get things down as quickly as possible.”
Timm expects middle meats such as steaks to remain high in price but outer cuts such as ground beef is where you’ll see the major price difference.
“Ground beef was extremely high – everybody uses it,” he said. “We see ground beef now that’s a couple dollars a pound less than it was last week already. I don’t know where the bottom is on that, but it’s going to get back to really good money I believe.”
Customers are left wondering if there will be another meat shortage at the supermarket in the future. Timm believes it is a real possibility because farmers were left to wonder what they should or should not raise when processing plants were shut down.
Timm recommends when buying meat, consider how much you need for up to two weeks.