Fast-food restaurant chain Wendy’s is facing major beef shortages amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Nearly one in five of the chain’s restaurants is not serving beef products. “Around 1,000, or 18 percent, of Wendy’s 5,500 U.S. restaurants are not serving any hamburgers or other meat-based items, according to an analysis of online menus at every location conducted by financial firm Stephens,” CNN reports.
“It is widely known that beef suppliers across North America are currently facing production challenges. We continue to supply hamburgers to all of our restaurants, with deliveries two or three times a week, which is consistent with normal delivery schedules.”
The company added: “However, some of our menu items may be temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment. 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.”
Failing US Beef Industry
The ongoing pandemic has greatly impacted the U.S. beef industry.
A number of meat processing plants and slaughterhouses have been forced to close across the country as a result of COVID-19. Many meat plants have reported cases of the coronavirus; some plant workers have even died as a result.
Tyson Foods, Cargill Ltd., JBS, National Beef Packing Co., and Smithfield Food Inc. have all reported plant closures.
Last month, President Donald Trump issued an executive order forcing plants to remain open during the pandemic.
“The reason for this EO is there were discussions among certain processing companies (Tysons, for example) to keep only 20% of facilities open. The vast majority of processing plans could have shut down, reducing processing capacity in the country by as much as 80%,” an administration official told NBC News.
The move resulted in blowback from meat processing plant workers. “All I know is, this is crazy to me. Because I can’t see all these people going back into work,” an employee at Tyson Food’s Waterloo, Iowa plant told CNN Business. He is currently recovering from COVID-19.
“I don’t think people are going to go back in there,” he added. “I’m still trying to figure out: What is he going to do, force them to stay open? Force people to go to work?”