Meat shortages impacting more than just the big fast food chains

Agriculture secretary says meat supply is fine, we're just going to have to get a little creative

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — If you had to pick up dinner lately, there’s a chance you may not get what you want.

About one-fifth of Wendy’s restaurants are dealing with beef shortages. Locally owned businesses told Channel 2 Action News that they’re feeling the pinch too.

At a Wendy’s location in Cobb County, Channel 2’s Chris Jose found a sign on the building that says its suppliers are facing challenges. It’s a scenario affecting many businesses.

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Joseph Hsiao owns several metro Atlanta restaurants, including the West Cobb Diner. Right now, he can still get ground beef from his suppliers, but he’s noticed a price increase.

“An additional 20%-30%,” Hsiao said. “It’s obviously going to affect the menu on what we’re going to carry. It’s going to affect pricing. And perhaps even portioning now.”

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Hsiao told Jose that he usually pays about $2.19 for every pound of ground beef. Now it’s up about 40 cents.

It’s not just a beef shortage that restaurants are noticing.

“Right now, for us, it’s chicken and pork,” said Thom Pate, director of operations for gourmet taco restaurant Yumbii.

Pate said he started to see the meat supply dwindle last week.

“This is the situation we’re in. We’re going to have to fluctuate what we do based upon what’s available,” Pate said.

At the Wendy’s drive-thru on Barrett Parkway, Jose ordered a single-stack hamburger, but a worker told him the fast-food joint is low on beef.

Jose also noticed the signs that tell customers some menu items may be unavailable.

Georgia Tech food safety expert Wendy White said it's hard to predict how long shortages will last.

“You’ll see sporadic shortages, but the people at Wendy’s, I’m sure, are taking great pains to repair those shortfalls in their supply,” White said.

Local restaurant owners told Jose that if meat prices get too expensive, they may have to take some items off the menu. They simply do not want their customers to pay more money.