Prices of meat skyrocket locally, availability also affected

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 23, 2020

Shoppers in Pearl River County, and across the country, are noticing the price of their favorite cut of meat is on the rise.
Garrett Acquistapace, owner of Claiborne Hill, said that the price of meat products has been steadily rising since April.
In emails provided to the Item by Acquistapace that he received from a supplier on May 10, the supplier advises that supplies of ground beef products are either highly priced, or unavailable. Pork products suffer the same problems, with either none coming in, or only in small amounts.
In the email, grocers are advised to put their orders early to ensure products are on the shelf for the Fourth of July
The price per pound of ground beef seems to have been hit harder than other products, shooting up more than $3 per pound from late March to May 18. Now shoppers can expect to pay about $7 per pound for ground beef. In comparison, the price for ribeye steaks 2.81 per pound in that same timeframe.
Acquistapace said he can’t say why the price for ground beef has gone up more than for steaks.
As of Thursday, the price of ground chuck at nearly $7 a pound, and prices for boneless ribeye steaks were at 14.97 per pound.
Acquistapace said the price surges are in relation to the closures of several meat packing plants in response to COVID-19. While prices are on the rise now, he expects them to level out in the coming week or two. Additionally some products that were previously easy to come by are becoming increasingly difficult to order. That fact applies to beef and pork products. Acquistapace has noticed that whole ribeyes, Boston butts and at times ground beef is difficult to order from the warehouse so he can put them on his shelves.
“You can’t guarantee price and you can’t guarantee product,” Acquistapace said.
Even though the prices of meat have been on the rise, Acquistapace said he adjusted his own margin to keep the prices he charges his customers competitive.
“It’s unfortunate that prices have shot up so much with what is going on,” Acquistapace said.
However, paper towels and toilet paper are becoming easier to order, but Acquistapace said he can get only one brand.
“The selection has dropped to one label. But right now, I’m happy to get it,” Acquistapace said.
Additionally, the pandemic has affected the variation in the products certain brands used to offer. A brand of baked beans that used to produce several flavors, now only offers the most popular of flavors.
But there are bright spots to the pandemic in relation to sales, which have been good to Claiborne Hill, Acquistapace said.
He’s also been fortunate that he didn’t have to cut back on staff.
“We’ve been very fortunate. I feel like our staff has been awesome. I can’t speak highly enough about them,” Acquistapace said.
And in response to the additional policies set forth by the Centers for Disease Control, Acquistapace said each of his staff are putting forth extra effort to ensure everything is sanitized. Wipes are also offered to customers as they enter the store.

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