Coronavirus threatens meat supply chain, but butchers cash in

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:

The coronavirus is threatening the meat supply. But one business is cashing in on the local butcher shops.

When we visited Xpress Meat Market on Fowler Street in Fort Myers, they were busy. And the phone was ringing constantly. More people are turning to butchers because they can’t find meat anywhere else.

“Since Publix, Walmart and places like that have been low, so they come here,” said Grabriel Rieghetto of Xpress Meat Market. “We’re always packed.”

At Xpress Meat Market, there’s no limit on how much meat customers can buy.

“They’ll say, ‘I can’t find it, but, oh, you guys saved me,’” Rieghetto said. “It’s really good to hear.”

But these butchers are facing limits from their suppliers. So they’re getting strategic by ordering from multiple companies and finding product replacements.

“Being here offering this for people, offering the service of meat is really good,” Rieghetto said. “And there’s a lot of people who don’t have jobs. They can’t work. That’s why we try to always have good prices, make sure we’ve got everything you need.”

But many businesses are eating the rising cost.

“Since, today, the prices are exploding,” said Mike Lehnberg, the owner of Lehne Burger in Cape Coral.

While some restaurants might drop some meat dishes from the menu, Lehne Burger cannot.

“We have to buy the expensive stuff now to keep the business running,” Lehnberg said.

Lehnberg told us that means prices doubled, so they’re adapting to whatever the supply chain serves them.

“We are from day to day right now,” Lehnberg said.

But, since the start of the week, the local burger joint has been busy with customers and cleaning.

At the butcher shop, they told us customers can expect cleanliness. Butchers are no strangers to strict cleaning because they handle raw meat.

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