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Meat supply shortage creating limits for customers

Redlinski Meats makes many of its own products
Posted at 5:52 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 04:09:02-04

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) — “Certain things are getting tough to come by, like boneless, skinless chicken breasts or bone-in pork loins,” said Joseph Redlinski, owner, Redlinski Meats.

Joseph Redlinski, owner, Redlinski Meats.

First there was a shortage on toilet paper, now it's meat. But that's because some large meat processing plants, like Tyson Foods, forced to shutdown production after too many employees contracted coronavirus.

At Redlinski Meats on Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga there is a steady stream of customers for curbside orders and pick up.

Redlinski says he's noticing a high demand for boneless chicken, ground beef and pork. “And when I’m able to get it in, I can only get half of what I ordered,” explained Redlinski.

“If I can't get a bone-in pork loin, I can get boneless pork loins or if I can't get pork butts, I can get whole pigs and break them down myself, and still make all my products,” Redlinski remarked.

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Inside the meat counter at Redlinski Meats.

Redlinski says he's actually at an advantage over the larger grocery chains because he is smaller and able to get certain product in.

“I don't rely on other companies to buy baloney from or hot dogs or cold cuts. We make everything ourselves — so as long as I can get the animals, I can make the product,” noted Redlinski.

Redlinski says he relies mostly on buying from Ford Brothers Meats, a meat wholesaler in West Valley.

At larger grocery chains, like Tops and Wegmans, there are limits right now on the number of meat and chicken products you can buy.

Wegmans says the "coronavirus is impacting meat supply across the country, but we do not expect to see a shortage of meat proteins available to our customers." But wegmans says it may not have every cut or variety of meat for the next few weeks.

"Coronavirus is impacting meat supply across the country, but we do not expect to see a shortage of meat proteins available to our customers. Although we may not have every product cut or variety available for the next few weeks, we are working hard to source all the product we can to ensure our customers have plenty of options in our meat department. We are confident supply will stabilize as time goes on. Until then, we will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments to our sourcing strategy as necessary. Our seafood and frozen foods departments also offer great protein options during these short-term supply challenges.

Beginning in March, we placed a 2-item purchase limit on Family Pack 80% Ground Beef and Family Pack Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast. Around that same time, we also started encouraging customers to prioritize their needs and limit all meat department purchases. This has allowed us to better manage our inventory and meet the needs of as many customers as possible. Any price increases in our meat department will only reflect the amount our costs have risen."

Tops Markets said it is "definitely seeing fresh meat supplies tightening," but says relationships it has with suppliers is helping to maintain items shoppers want most.

"We are definitely seeing fresh meat supplies tightening, which is also having an impact on frozen and processed meat (cold cuts, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, etc...) but the supplier relationships we have built has allowed us to maintain consistent with the items most sought after by our shoppers. We are working hard every day to secure product into our stores, quickly. Due to high demand, however, it becomes necessary to place limits on the following effective immediately and in place until further notice;- Limit 2 Packages of Fresh Beef (including Ground Beef)
- Limit 2 Packages of Fresh Pork (including Marinated Pork)
- Limit 2 Packages of Fresh Chicken"

Federal Meats, with several locations in Western New York, also placed temporary limits on meats and poultry.

Redlinski said some prices are also rising.

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Outside Redlinski Meats in Cheektowaga.

“The prices are a challenge. Some stuff is going up, but there’s a lot of stuff coming down too,” Redlinski said.

For now, Redlinksi said the biggest challenge is not seeing his customers inside his shop.

“Not having people see the product and smell — I do a lot of cooking inside, so there's baking and onions cooking — inside all the time,” Relinski noted.