Meat processing plants close putting local businesses to work amid shortage


BROOKLET, Ga. (WSAV) – Across the country, meatpacking plants are shutting down due to coronavirus outbreaks but local meat processors are answering the call for this problem. Local meat businesses are now feeling the demands.

Despite meat processing plants closing around the country, Coastal Empire farmers are busier than ever.

“Now we’re seeing a lot of customers that can’t find meat in other places,” Kristan Fretwell with Hunter Cattle Company said.

The meat section at the grocery store used to be full before coronavirus hit but now it’s bare-bones after big corporations decided to close their doors.

“There are serious problems with other plants not being able to fulfill the orders because of either employee getting sick or whatever,” Del Ferguson with Hunter Cattle Company said.

With those closures, the workload to keep meat on fridge shelves is trickling back down to local meat processing businesses. The Hunter Cattle Company in Brooklet is seeing more people buying their products.

“We supply a lot of restaurants in the area but a lot of them closed because of the virus and so we ended up switching a lot of our wholesale meats to retail meats in order to sell to the individual person,” Fretwell said.

Which requires working longer hours to process the meat, package and label each item.

“We’ve been working a lot more trying to cut more steaks and grind more ground beef for people so it’s been a lot of work,” Ferguson said.

Through the coronavirus pandemic the family business is still booming.

“We’re hearing about the big corporations not being able to serve them and in a smaller way we can take care of a few people around here,” Ferguson said.

“A lot of stores that might be smaller retailer stores that sell our meats have upped their orders a lot because they’re having a hard time getting in other meats,” Fretwell said.

Hunter Cattle Company is doing it’s part to help grocery stores survive amid the shortage of meat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.