• COVID-19 hits U.S. meat supply and boneless chicken is the first to vanish
  • Poultry suppliers face labor shortages amidst COVID-19 pandemic
  • Foodservice companies are swapping regular boneless chicken for bone-in thigs, legs, drumsticks

As the coronavirus hits U.S. meat supply, boneless chicken has begun to vanish. Not only does the shortage mean that the wholesale prices are surging but it might also be reflected in the price of wings sold at the grocery stores. Food retailers across the country have started swapping boneless chicken legs for thighs and drumsticks due to the shutdowns at meat packaging plants that have reduced the supplies.

Workers at some of the largest meat processing plants in the country being infected with COVID-19 have also reduced slaughter capacity. One-third of the country’s pork capacity has also been shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Goodfood Market Corp., the Quebec-based meal delivery company has announced that it will be substituting its regular boneless chicken for bone-in thighs, drumsticks, and legs. The poultry industry has begun to shift away from de-boning in order to ramp up production.

“Poultry suppliers are still facing labor shortages and many of them are operating with less than 50% of their regular workforce. 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,” the Fortune quoted Goodfood Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Ferrari’s email to the customers.

Grocers are also trying to find new ways to sell the ‘end cuts’ from the leg or trunk that consumers might not be familiar with. Other meat products that would have been used by the foodservice industries have now been redirected for retail sale. Meats such as strip loins and sirloin that are typically sent to restaurants have been now sold by retailers.

Also, consumers might find larger meat packages instead of individual steaks or smear portions in grocery stores worldwide.

And consumers worldwide have started to buy cuts that they have never bought earlier. In Europe, where supply disruptions haven’t been so severe, the grocers are trying to get their customers to buy meat cuts that are usually sold to restaurants. In the U.K., there has been an uptick in the sales of both steaks and the previously less popular cuts of meat.

“We’re just waiting to see if enough has changed to eat our way out of the problem,” Bloomberg Quint quoted Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors’ Association as saying.

One of Buck's most popular is a clip of chicken wings being grilled
One of Buck's most popular is a clip of chicken wings being grilled GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / ALEX WONG