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United Family developing alternative sources to cope with possible meat shortage

Updated: Apr. 29, 2020 at 9:38 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Supply chain disruptions from COVID-19 have Americans worried about a shortage of meat in coming months. We spoke with The United Family about supplies here in Lubbock.

Industry leaders are warning consumers about future meat shortages after the temporary closure of more than 20 meatpacking plants, prompting President Trump to take executive action Tuesday, using the Defense Protection Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure.

While this is a real concern for other regions and states, according to the President of the largest meat retailer on the South Plains, we have no reason to panic when we need to purchase our favorite cuts of meat - and we shouldn’t be rushing to our local grocery stores out of fear.

“Obviously, a lot of the concern is being driven by the number of plants and facilities around the country that have been shut down,” said Sidney Hopper, President of The United Family, which owns United Supermarkets, Market Street and Amigos. He says the only cause for concern is the likelihood of panic buying, not the company’s ability to supply meat to the consumer.

“When the pandemic first hit, there was a lot of panic, a lot of people going to the stores, stocking up on groceries, maybe they didn’t need all of them, but they were afraid that we weren’t going to have any. But, what we saw in a short amount of time was that the supply chain did catch up,” Hopper said.

He says The United Family is working diligently to ensure guests still have plenty of product to choose from.

“I’ve been in constant contact with our buying team, yesterday and today as well and we’re looking at a lot of different alternate supplies that we normally might not use to get product from.”

Hopper says he hopes guests remain patient during this time, “We may not have everything that everybody wants, if we do get a little bit tighter, but we’re going to be able to take care of our guests.”

He says above all, when it comes to the meat industry, he knows one thing is certain, “The industry is very resilient. I think they’re going to come back strong. A lot of the plans of what I’m hearing now are going to be at limited capacity early on, just to make sure that, number one, they take care of the safety of their team members as they bring them back in….but they’ll ramp up quickly.”

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