Area stores hoping they won’t see impact from meat plant closures


This week, Tyson joins Smithfield Foods, having to close plants because employees have COVID-19

(WYTV) – Concerns over meat shortages are mounting as more meat-packing plants have had to close because of employees being diagnosed with COVID-19.

On Thursday, Tyson announced its beef plant in Pasco, Washington would be closing to test employees for the virus. It’s also shut down plants in Iowa and Indiana because of outbreaks.

Tyson joins Smithfield Foods, which had to close down a South Dakota plant last week.

“We haven’t really seen anybody panic-buying, per se, where they just load up and that’s all they’re buying,” said John Allen, assistant manager at Sparkle in Cornersburg.

He said they don’t carry Tyson poultry or pork products, just a few of its frozen foods.

Allen wasn’t sure how the closing of Tyson facilities or any other meat-packing plants could affect Sparkle’s business.

“We’ll just keep ordering as we normally do and just ride it out just like everybody else is having to do,” he said.

In Boardman, Catullo Prime Meats has actually seen an increase in business.

“Initially when the pandemic started, people were shocked that we still had meat when the big chain stores did not, so we saw some new customers come in,” Rebecca Howard said.

She said most of their business now comes from online orders. In-person service has slowed down.

But because Catullo’s has more customers, there have been some shortages on their end.

Howard said, thankfully, they haven’t happened all at once.

“We were out of chicken one week, pork one week, beef one week but we were able to find alternatives for the customers or substitute something else for them to get them through.”

As for the impact of meat-packing plants, Howard said they haven’t felt any effects right now.

As bigger grocery stores run short on meat supplies, Catullo’s could run into some problems.

“We don’t deal with the ones that have been specifically shut down, so at this point, we have no problems as far as supply,” Howard said. “If bigger box chains then try to source from our sources, it may then create an additional shortage for us at that point.”

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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