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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Hy-Vee officials have announced a limit on meat purchases at all locations effective May 6 as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on food processors across the Midwest.

“Due to worker shortages at plants as well as an increase in meat sales, customers may not find the specific items they are looking for,” the company announced in a statement. “Because of this, we are going to put a limit on customer purchases in the meat department.”

Customers will be limited to four packages of meat, including fresh beef, ground beef, pork and chicken.

“We continue to work with industry leaders so we are prepared for any possible fluctuations in product and can best serve our customers,” the company stated.

Costco also limited meat purchases Monday, April 4. Shoppers can only get three items there.

Food processing plants have been hit hard by the coronavirus, where workers often share close quarters. 300 workers tested recently positive for the coronavirus at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph alone.

Missouri lawmakers have set aside $20 million in aid funding for food processing plants that have suffered major losses and have had to close due to infections.

Jon McCormick, the president of the Retail Grocers Association of Kansas City, said demand is high, but right now supply is low.

“The meat packing plants, the pork production plants and the chicken production processors are all in a bind. I mean, when your workers have been tested with COVID, they’ve got to go home,” McCormick said.

“And there’s enough of them going home that it’s causing production problems, so it’s never good when your members retailers cannot get product.”

McCormick said this could be a sign of what’s to come. Right now people are purchasing in stores, but in a few weeks the supply will be more spread out.

“When when you have beef production down 37% and pork down 44% and thank goodness chicken is only down 9%, you have a problem,” McCormick said.

“And then when the restaurants open up, the problem is going to be exacerbated because right now their coolers are empty.”

He said no members of the Retail Grocers Association of Kansas City are limiting meat sales for now. That includes Price Chopper, Hen House, Sun Fresh and Cosentinos Markets to name a few. There are around 400 local stores in the association.