Coronavirus hits US meat supply and boneless chicken is first to go scarce

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Food retailers across North America are swapping boneless chicken legs for less popular thighs and drumsticks as a wave of shutdowns at meatpacking plants has reduced supplies of sought-after cuts.

Quebec-based Goodfood Market Corp., which delivers meals on a subscription basis:

“Poultry suppliers are still facing labor shortages and many of them are operating with less than 50% of their regular workforce,” Goodfood Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Ferrari wrote in an email to customers. “To ensure the essential supply of chicken for Canadians across the country, the poultry industry as a whole is shifting away from de-boning chicken legs to increase their production capacity.”

Grocers generally are accepting cuts of meat that require more cutting by their in-house butchers to keep their meat counters as full as possible, said Michael Young, president of Canada Beef.

Grocers are also trying to find a way to sell so-called “end cuts” from the leg or trunk that consumers may be unfamiliar with. That includes promoting the idea of grilling marinated round steaks — from the leg of a cow — on the barbecue to make it more tender, Young said.

Consumers in grocery stores around the world might notice larger packages of meat instead of individual steaks or smaller portions, said Brian Sikes, head of Cargill’s protein and salt businesses. While the company’s plants primarily produce the same products for retail and food-service, they might cut or package them slightly differently, he said. – READ MORE

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