How the national meat shortage is impacting Wiregrass butchers

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MALVERN, Ala. (WDHN) — The price you pay for your favorite burgers and steaks typically goes up during the summertime but due to a national meat shortage, those prices can be even higher.

When he was young, Van Johnston watched the way his dad would carefully handle the meat they raised and butchered on their family farm.

Those experiences inspired him to keep the family business going.

“We were raised on a farm and my daddy always cut meat for a living and from that, I just followed in his footsteps,” Johnston said.

Johnston is the owner of Johnston’s Fresh Cut Meats in Malvern. Since the early ’80s, he has been serving customers their favorite chicken, pork, and steaks. Despite the national shortage, he said he has been able to keep his shelves stocked.

“I just watch how we handle our meat and everything,” Johnston said. “I try not to get over-supplied, so I keep good pack dates.”

According to Johnston, prices in his store have nearly doubled since last year.

He said manufacturers don’t have enough workers and a cyberattack on one of the largest meat producers is why shortages and price increases have happened.

“The pork and the chicken, it went up some but not as dramatic as the beef prices have gone up,” Johnston said. “Steak prices have just gone up out of sight.”

Johnston tells WDHN even though local butchers like himself have been impacted by the meat shortage, customers have still been loyal and he is even seeing new faces walk in.

Johnston has been talking to his major suppliers and as of right now, he doesn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why he’s asking consumers to be patient as butchers and suppliers work to get prices and stock back to normal.

“I look for pork and chicken to rise a little bit more,” Johnston said. “Beef, I think it should stay and be leveled out, I don’t see how we can keep going up for beef.”

Johnston encourages Wiregrass residents to always support local businesses, especially during times like these. He says community support helps keeps their business operating.

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