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Meat Supply Disruptions Prompt Kroger and Costco to Limit Chicken, Pork, and Beef Purchases

By Rhian Hunt - May 5, 2020 at 12:06PM

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The move comes as meat supply is threatened and some prices begin to climb.

Despite President Donald Trump's executive order mandating meatpacking plants remain open through the coronavirus pandemic, serious food supply shortfalls are increasing, pushing Kroger (KR -1.89%), Costco (COST 0.52%), and other supermarkets to rein in customers' meat purchases. Both major retailers have placed strict limits on the amount of meat one person can buy in an effort to prevent people from completely stripping shelves.

Earlier in the pandemic, Americans emptied stores of toilet paper and hand sanitizer for weeks, making the products inaccessible to many. Now it seems to be meat's turn, with Tyson Foods (TSN 0.63%) warning of a potential 50% drop in the supply as processing is disrupted across the intensely centralized industry. 

A shopper examines cuts of meat at a grocery store.

Image source: Getty Images.

In a May 4 update on its website describing its COVID-19 response, Costco said it is temporarily limiting members to a maximum of 3 "fresh meat purchases." Fresh meat is an umbrella term covering all types of poultry, beef, and pork found in the store's meat section. The measure comes at the same time Costco is requiring all shoppers in their stores to wear face masks in effort to stop person-to-person coronavirus transmission.

Kroger is putting similar limits on meat buying. The giant grocery store and drugstore chain has many beef, pork, and chicken items marked "MAX 2" on its website, though the limits seemingly apply only at certain stores. Walmart (WMT 1.32%) subsidiary Sam's Club, has put a one-item limit on lamb, beef, pork, and poultry, though this applies to individual items, with no overall cap on meat purchases.

Numerous smaller regional grocery store and supermarket chains are also attempting to keep meat available through purchasing policies.

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Stocks Mentioned

Costco Wholesale Corporation Stock Quote
Costco Wholesale Corporation
COST
$488.26 (0.52%) $2.50
The Kroger Co. Stock Quote
The Kroger Co.
KR
$47.23 (-1.89%) $0.91
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Stock Quote
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
WMT
$124.25 (1.32%) $1.62
Tyson Foods, Inc. Stock Quote
Tyson Foods, Inc.
TSN
$85.79 (0.63%) $0.54

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