Amid fears of meat shortage, customers turn to local butchers and farms

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (WLS) -- With big grocery chains like Costco and Mariano's limiting the amount of meat customers can purchase, many are turning to local butchers and farms.

Fears of a meat shortage has business up at the All Grass Farms grocery store in Kane County; up 50 percent, actually, compared to this time in 2019.

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"We want to make sure we are taking care of our loyal customers for years first, and try to accommodate as many new customers as we can" said Cliff McConville, owner and operator of All Grass Farms.

Shoppers are looking for other options to buy chicken, pork and beef. The closure of some meat plants due to the coronavirus pandemic means some larger chain groceries have placed limits on the amount of meat that can be bought at a time.

"We use small family-owned processors that do the beef and the chicken and the pork slaughtering for us," McConville said. "Those guys are still operating for the most part, but they are packed full."

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Still, McConville said with the influx of new customers they're having to put some limits on what they can sell.

"We have cut off most bulk orders," he said. "We turned those off because we are getting so many orders that we wouldn't have anything in the stores."

He said they're on their own when it comes to supplying their store.

"We kind of have a unique situation where we can't just order more," he explained. "We have to just produce more and we have long lead times for most of those products. It takes us 18 months to raise a calf."

Sam Toia, head of the Illinois Restaurant Association, said some restaurants are taking items off their menus because of the meat shortages. Still, he emphasized restaurateurs are resilient and determined to get through the pandemic.
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