Costco places purchase limits on fresh meat amid concerns of shortage

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Costco on Monday became the latest retailer to implement purchasing limits on fresh meat because of the slowdown at processing plants during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company announced it’s limiting shoppers to three items of beef, pork and poultry products to “help ensure more members are able to purchase merchandise they want and need.”

Kroger, the country’s largest supermarket chain, announced a similar rule last week. The limits are because of high demand from shoppers while top meat suppliers are temporarily closing their factories because workers are falling ill.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union estimated last week that 20 meatpacking and food processing workers have died so far. The union said last week the closures have resulted in a 25% reduction in pork slaughter capacity and 10% reduction in beef slaughter capacity. President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at keeping meat plants open during the crisis.

Tyson Foods warned Monday that it expects more meat plant closures this year. The company also said it will continue producing less meat than usual, as workers refrain from coming to work during the outbreak. The pandemic has halved the amount of pork processing capacity in the country, Tyson said in its earnings call.

Costco has put in place several changes since the pandemic began in mid-March. It has adjusted hours, limited the number of people that its members can bring in and is requiring shoppers to wear face coverings in its stores.

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