Limits take effect immediately.

Supermarkets and grocery chains across the country are beginning to feel the pressure as signs of meat shortages start to show. Production has been down, demand up, as major producers like Tyson, Smithfield Foods, and JBS Meat feel the effects of COVID-19. Outbreaks have sidelined production workers, shut down plants, and changing demands have affected the supply chain across the country. 

In recent days, there are several emerging reports of stores and grocery chains limiting meat purchases in different areas of the country. Both large retailers and small local chains have been affected already, with more announcements likely to come. 

Costco has posted on its website that it will be implementing "limits on certain items to help ensure more members are able to purchase merchandise they want and need." This new rule applies to all Costco locations in every state. Costco was also among one of the first major retailers to require customers to wear face masks while in the store.

Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the country, started limiting customers' meat purchases in some places last week and has expanded that rule to include chains in many states and online. 

In Colorado, King Soopers and City Market customers were informed on Monday, May 4, that they would be limited to purchasing two chicken purchases, two pork purchases, and three ground beef purchases, effective immediately. Colorado joins a growing list of states where parent company Kroger has started implementing these limits, though they have not released a full list, saying the purchase limits will be placed in "select stores". These limits have been seen already in places like Ohio, California, and Utah. 

“At King Soopers, we feel good about our ability to maintain a broad assortment of meat and seafood for our customers because we purchase protein from a diverse network of suppliers. There is plenty of protein in the supply chain; however, some processors are experiencing challenges. At this time, we’ve added purchase limits on chicken, ground beef, and fresh pork.” Kroger’s spokesperson in a statement. 

Albertsons Inc. runs several banner brands, including Vons, Safeway, and Pavillions in Southern California, and those stores have placed a limit of two packages per household on certain meat items like chicken, beef, and pork, The company told the local ABC news station in San Diego that the measure was put in place in that market to prevent panic buying. 

"We are not experiencing and do not anticipate any issues with supply or product availability. We did so to prevent panic buying and to ensure more of our customers can find the products they need."

If you are concerned about limits on meat purchases, you should check with your specific grocer prior to heading out. Local news outlets across the nation are covering this story, and as the situation changes, we may see more purchase limits or less availability of meat, pork, and chicken products in different regions of the country. Customers may also see price increases in meat product prices as supply and demand continue to fluctuate. 

Walmart, in contrast to some other chains, has yet to impose limits on meat purchases. The company has said it has no current plans to do so this time, however, has not ruled out the possibility.

This is a changing situation, and as different grocery chains work to manage their supply chain and meet customer demands, it is not clear what will happen or how long limits on meat product purchases will last. 

Have you seen these product limits on fresh meat in stores in your area yet? Does the prospect of a meat shortage scare you? Let us know what you think about this issue in the comments.