COVID-19 has sent shockwaves down every economic sector around the world. The businesses that depended on physical retailing are those that have felt these ripples the most, where some have even filed for bankruptcy after a profound decline in consumer demand, amidst a countrywide lockdown.
Since most shift workers have been sanctioned to stay at home, the nation’s meat slaughtering and processing plants have been shut down for quite some time now. This has disrupted the meat supply chain ecosystem drastically. The most prized cuts such as brisket and pork ribs were the first ones to run out, as frozen stock depleted fast.
The BBQ capital of America, Kansas City is a pertinent example of a location that is suffering most at the behest of meat shortage. BBQ joints in Kansas City are forced to discontinue their most prized menu items because they have empty refrigerators.
Whenever there is a limited supply of a commodity, and the demand doesn’t follow, the prices shoot up. Owing to basic economics, meat cut prices have also followed suit. This drastic increase in prices has profound consequences. First, bbq joints in locations known for the art of smoking meat such as Kansas City are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their operations.
Since most of their revenue comes from selling cuts of smoked meat such as brisket and bbq ribs, the economic feasibility of running a bbq place is becoming impossible. This has led to considerable downsizing where restaurant owners just cannot continue to pay their employees.
The unprecedented shortage of industrial meat cuts has also facilitated the art of making barbecue at home. Due to the lockdown, people are forced to look for new hobbies that can allow them to fight the anxiety and kill time. Recently, the rise of home barbecue has become a novel trend where people seek help smoking tips from platforms like Smokey steak ranch to expertly cook hard cuts like ribs and brisket.
To survive the economic turmoil of losing the ability to sell the star menu items, many BBQ joints are now diversifying menu items and portion sizes. When it comes to food portions, America isn’t a country that is known for conservatism. Whether its a large glass of soda, pizza slice, or a cut of meat, all these consumables come in staggering portion sizes, but like all normals, the COVID situation has changed this phenomenon as well.
Restaurant owners are now also serving new smoked cut of meats such as chicken wings. Those BBQ joints that still had a small supply of brisket and pork ribs are selling smaller portions to accommodate a larger amount of people.
Making any predictions of the future can be futile, and the same principle applies to the meat industry as well. A recent report by CoBank predicted that the closure of meat processing plants across the country might lead to a stronger bottleneck in the supply-chain system. The best way for BBQ joints to fight this crisis is to diversify their menu options and source frozen cuts so that they can still facilitate consumer demand for the most prized menu items.