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Where’s the beef? And when will it return to Houston-area stores?

HOUSTON – The meat cases at most grocery stores are looking sparse. Retailers are limiting how much customers can buy after meat processing plants across the country closed when dozens of workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

We wanted to know when beef, pork and chicken will return to stores and what we’re supposed to do in the meantime to feed our families.

This is what we learned from H-E-B’s Scott McClelland:

  • Last week (beginning 5/3/2020) was likely the worst we will see in terms of meat shortages.
  • You will have to flexible when buying meat and meal planning. There will be some type of meat, but it may not be the same brand or cut you usually buy.
  • Stores are limiting meat purchases to prevent hoarding and to make sure there is enough for every customer.
  • Since Texans don’t eat as much brisket and roast this time of year, H-E-B is grinding them up to make ground beef, which is in greater demand right now.

The cost for all types of meat is up, but stores like H-E-B are trying not to pass those price increases on to customers. Smaller businesses like Majkszak’s Meat Market in Conroe can not absorb the costs, but they are not limiting the amount of meat their customers can buy.

“Pork has jumped about 20 to 30% in price and it’s very hard to get,” said owner Michael Majkszak, who said he’s never seen anything like the price spikes he’s seeing now in the industry.

“On your outer meats, your rounds, your shoulders, your chucks, your briskets… that sort of stuff has jumped 50%,” he said.

Both Majkszak and McClelland say they think inventories should return to normal in about a month with prices decreasing to their normal levels shortly after.