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'We're in pretty good shape' | Northern California unlikely to see meat shortage

Experts in the California beef and poultry industries say while some prices could increase, plants are still open and in good supply despite the pandemic.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — One of the country's largest meat providers, Tyson Foods, warned consumers over the weekend of a meat shortage following coronavirus slaughterhouse closures

But industry experts say that shouldn't be the case for Northern California.

"I feel like our supply is in good shape," Steven Maxey, owner of Certified Meat Products, said.

Maxey is a third-generation owner of Certified Meat Products, which is based out of Fresno. His products are shipped from Sacramento to Bakersfield and all over the country. He also serves as a member of the California Beef Council.

"What I've seen to this point is more of a market disruption than a mass shortage, I don't really see that developing," Maxey said.

As of 2018, he says, California as a state is the fourth largest beef producer in the country. Facilities in the Golden State though haven't seen the amount of closures as other parts of the country have.

"Our production has been impacted less on the West Coast," Maxey said.

The California Beef Council said one small upside is that since many restaurants had to temporarily close, consumers might see lower prices in the grocery store for some of those nicer meat cuts, like sirloin, tenderloin and rib-eyes.

There isn't even any fowl news to report on the poultry side of things. The California Poultry Federation says any spot shortages have more to do with distribution issues and not the lack of supply in California.

"All our plants are up and operating as productively has they've ever operated," Bill Mattos, President of the California Poultry Federation, said. "We're very concerned about the coronavirus. We have a lot of steps in place to protect employees so we can keep our plants open."

Despite the ad Tyson Foods released over the weekend, saying the food supply chain in America is breaking, UC Davis Professor Daniel Sumner said we could expect to see some higher prices, but he doesn't expect to see shelves being wiped out anytime soon.

"If you want to have some very specialized meat product, you may find that in short supply in your local market on the day you're shopping, if you went back the next day, it may be there, but I don't think anybody has to worry about the supply chain in America, we're in pretty good shape," Sumner said.

And he said the only way we will see a shortage is if people panic buy, just like they did with toilet paper.

"As we've learned in the past month or two, you could certainly create a shortage in the sense that consumers can altogether if we all ran out and decided to stock up every freezer space that we have with steaks and pork chops," Summer said.

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