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Stew Leonard’s keeps butcher shelves stocked during coronavirus pandemic

Hartford

NEWINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — At Stew Leonard’s in Newington, the butcher shop shelves are packed even amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has created meat shortages and purchase limits.

That’s good news for customers like Rick Rubin, of Rocky Hill.

“I’m here for the meat,” said Rubin. 

He had been worried after encountering beef limits at other stores. COVID-19 outbreaks at meat processors in other parts of the country have disrupted the supply chain.

“I picked up a couple of pounds of ground beef and they told me I could only have one,” said Rubin of his past experiences. So, he came to Stew’s, where he found everything he needed.

News 8 spoke with Stew Leonard Jr., who said, “At Stew Leonard’s there’s no shortage of beef. There’s going to be no shortage of beef. People do not have to panic.”

Leonard Jr. said things should get back to normal nationally in about a month.

Leonard maintains that there is plenty of meat to go around. There is no shortage of animals. The clogs in the supply chain are a result of big packing plants and the trucking industry grappling with COVID. But Leonard says his local stores who buy from smaller distributers are not reporting any issues.

Stew’s was limiting the purchase of chicken to two packages per person per cut. But as of Wednesday, the limits are lifted.

But, Stew’s still wants to remind customers that there is no need to panic buy.

“I was just talking to our meat buyer and he said last week we sold more ground beef than we did on Memorial Day last year. So you’re seeing a tremendous panic occur,” said CEO Stew Leonard Jr.

“You’re seeing certain hot spots within meat and poultry,” Leonard Jr. added. “Don’t panic. We’ll have plenty of chicken breast for you,” and everything else. “Our shelves are full at Stew Leonard’s. We do not have any limits on any meat. We’re selling a lot of it but we’re able to get it also,” Leonard said.

“They’re well-stocked. I didn’t see anything empty right now,” said one woman, shopping on a busy Wednesday morning.

She and other customers tell News 8 they feel reassured. Some customers say they support the meat limits still in place at markets like Stop & Shop and Costco.

“For somebody who’s going to come in and hoard all the meat, it’s not going to allow for somebody else who maybe gets out once every two weeks,” she said.

At Stop & Shop, meat products are limited to two per customer. In a statement Tuesday, the supermarket chain said:

Even though we are not experiencing any significant issues in terms of supply, heightened attention around plant closures and the meat supply has led to increased demand.

In order to ensure that meat is available to as many customers as possible, Stop & Shop has established a limit of two per customer on meat products.

– Stop & Shop

“I’m thankful they’re doing what they can to keep us safe and give us what we need,” said Stew Leonard’s shopper Elaine Mines. 

And things do seem balanced again for now.

But, if you’re getting takeout, you may find yourself asking some fast-food chains “where’s the beef?”

You may recall Wendy’s had a reported burger shortage this last week. News 8 stopped by the drive-through in North Haven Tuesday, and there was no beef.

But Wednesday, the burgers were back.

Leonard expects the national meat supply chain to get back to normal within about a month. But he says his customers can get what they need right now.

As for Rubin, he got what he was looking for at Stew’s: meat and peace of mind.

“We wanted to make sure all of our customers coming in were going to be able to buy chicken and get chicken home to be able to serve their families,” said VP Jaime DiStefano.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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