The meat shortages across the nation have turned a famous 1980s catchphrase into an ominous question at some Wendy’s locations around the country.
Where’s the beef?
Some Wendy’s restaurants have taken their signature hamburgers off the menu, with shortages being reported at locations in California, South Carolina and Kentucky on Monday as coronavirus outbreaks roil the meat supply chain.
“Some of our menu items may be in short supply from time to time at some restaurants in this current environment,” Wendy’s said in a statement to Restaurant Business. “We expect this to be temporary, and we’re working diligently to minimize the impact to our customers and restaurants.”
The Wendy’s burger shortage at some locations comes after about 5,000 meat and poultry plant workers contracted coronavirus in 115 plants across 19 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Several of the nation’s largest meat processing plants have temporarily shuttered operations due to the outbreak. The closures have halted 25% of pork production and 10% of beef production in the U.S, according to Bloomberg.
Wendy’s, which has about 5,800 locations across the country, has long offered fresh burgers that have never been frozen, which now has left the company more vulnerable to disruptions in the U.S. supply chain than companies that rely on beef imported from overseas.
“What you see with this is less supplies and higher prices, and whether we’re talking beef, pork, chicken, lamb, whatever your favorite is, we are already seeing really skyrocketing prices at wholesale for meat,” David Anderson, a professor of agricultural economics at Texas A&M University, said on “TODAY” Tuesday.
The fast-food chain isn’t the only one feeling the pinch, as the grocery chain Kroger has announced it will limit ground beef and poultry purchases in some of its stores. Costco has also said it will be restricting purchase of fresh beef, pork and poultry items to three per customer.