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Meat shortage forcing local butchers to raise prices and limit purchases to survive

Butcher shop
Posted at 9:55 PM, May 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 10:15:31-04

CINCINNATI — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a shortage of meat products, especially beef and pork, has forced butchers to raise their prices and limit the amount any customer can purchase, or risk going out of business.

Butcher shop owners in Cincinnati said they're not happy about having to increase prices, but it's imperative to keeping their businesses alive.

"One of my suppliers said, 'Don't worry about these high prices, Dan.' I said 'Why's that?' and he says 'Because I don't have any meat to sell you,'" said Dan Thomas, owner of R&R Quality Meats.

The supply shortage has forced him to impose limits on how much each customer can buy in order to make his inventory last. He said at first, the company had to limit ground beef purchases to 5 pounds per person, but he has since relaxed that to 10 pounds a customer. This is in contrast to requests he said he was receiving for 25-30 pounds from some customers.

Even when butcher shop owners can get their hands on the supply, though, prices are steep.

"Even on ground beef, we started out, it was $6.59 a pound, now it's $9.49," said Abby Rowe, with Dave's Quality Meats of West Chester. "Our ribeyes and strips, they were $18.99, they went up to $21.99 and then $25.99, depending on choice of prime."

She said while they haven't lost customers, the hike in prices hasn't gone unnoticed.

"We've kept the prices the same for pretty much a long time," said Rowe. "So going from that and then jumping up within a month, a few weeks...it is a bit shocking."

However, there's hope that there may be an end in sight. Thomas' suppliers estimate prices should come back down in about a month.

"By July, 4th of July maybe, we're looking at a happy summer," said Thomas.