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Local butcher shortage lowering meat availability, increasing costs

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 10:19:34-04

BRAZOS COUNTY, — The meat industry is experiencing a butcher shortage and it's being felt across the cutting board.

Charlie Lockett of Bryan buys meats from Readfield Meats and Deli about twice a month.

Over the last year, she's noticed a jump in prices.

"Yes. I have, but we have to eat," Lockett said.

"It's all about supply and demand. If demand is up for a cut and supply is down on it, they'll go up on the supply and demand evens out," Richard Ruffino, owner of Readfield Meats and Deli said.

There's no shortage of meat. What the industry is missing is manpower to make the cuts.

"Poultry that we deal with out in San Antonio employs about 120-30 people on the lines processing chicken and a couple of weeks ago they only had about 60 people. So, we ordered 125 cases of particular chicken breasts. I think they shipped us 18," Ruffino said.

Ruffino says when it's hard to get products at Readfield, they can rely on pulling meats from their wholesale store, Ruffino Meats, and Food Services, but they would be in a lot more trouble if that weren't the case.

"It really puts us in a bind when we have to go elsewhere, see if we can find products from somewhere else so we are able to take care of our customers," Ruffino said.

Ruffino has seen first-hand how hard it's been to get workers in. When he posted a deli position in the newspaper for six weeks, he did not get a single reply.

"We know how to operate. shorthanded, but just do what you have to do," Ruffino said.