"Where's the beef?" It used to be funny line from a classic 1980s Wendy's commercial - but it's no laughing matter, anymore. Due to increasing food shortages during the coronavirus pandemic, reports are coming in that approximately 1 in 5 Wendy's restaurants are now running out of beef. According to CNN, that number equates to about 1,000 of Wendy's 5,500 US locations (or 18% of the franchise's restaurants), which are now having to push non-meat options to consumers. Wendy's has, ironically, been put at a serious disadvantage, due to its tried and true philosophy of only serving fresh beef to consumers. With meat supplies running low, fresh beef is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.
Wendy's has issued a statement about its beef shortages, stating that it's, ""widely known that beef suppliers across North America are currently facing production challenges," and that meat products may be, "temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment."
There is apparently a plan to get things back on track, as Wendy's further claims that, "We're working diligently to minimize the impact to our customers and restaurants, and continue to work with our supplier partners to monitor this closely."
Wendy's is the first big fast food chain to report shortages of beef products - namely because it's one of the first to feel the pressure of delays in the food supply chain. Restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King have not yet issued any reports about beef shortages in their store locations, but the next few weeks could change that. There have been growing cries of warning from within the food processing industry that (as Tyson Co. put it) "the food supply chain is breaking." As the COVID-19 outbreak pushes into states and counties where major food processing plants are located, the workforce needed to operate those plants is now dealing with much greater risk of infection. If infections break out in or around the facilities, then they can no longer operate.
With so much of America's meat supply tied to major food processing companies and their processing facilities, it doesn't take much interruption to start causing a domino effect of meat shortages across the nation. Big chains are the first to feel that pinch, as they require significant amounts of meat to operate as normal. It will be interesting to see if the coming weeks reveal that other food vendors that use frozen meat products also start to report shortages. After that, it's not long before Americans start finding grocery store shelves increasingly empty - right during BBQ season.
Wonder how society will hold up if that happens?
The government claims to be working diligently on a solution to bolster the food supply chain before it break entirely.
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