News & Politics

One in Five Wendy's Restaurants Is Out of Beef

This Sept. 17, 2013 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows walruses as they clamber up on to the grassy tundra on a barrier island in Point Lay, Alaska. A lawsuit making its way through federal court in Alaska will decide whether Pacific walruses should be listed as a threatened species, giving them additional protections. Walruses use sea ice for giving birth, nursing and resting between dives for food but the amount of ice over several decades has steadily declined due to climate warming. (Ryan Kingsbery/U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

“Where’s the Beef”? the old Wendy’s commercial asked. Now, Wendy’s customers are asking that question in real life.

An online analysis by Stephens, Inc. shows that about one in five Wendy’s outlets is listing beef products as “out of stock.” A study of online menus for every Wendy’s location nationwide shows that 1,043 restaurants — or 18% of its stores — have listed beef items as out of stock.

The disruption in our food supply chains is beginning to be felt nationwide. And even if America got back to work this month, it will be weeks before things get back to normal.

NBC News:

The shortages vary by state. Hundreds of Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and New York restaurants are out of beef, while other states’ menus do not indicate any supply chain issues.

“A short outage is not material in our view,” Rutherford said in a note to clients Tuesday.

The trick is going to be to keep this short outage from becoming a long one.

“It is widely known that beef suppliers across North America are currently facing production challenges,” Wendy’s spokeswoman Heidi Schauer said in a statement to CNBC. “We continue to supply hamburgers to all of our restaurants, with deliveries two or three times a week, which is consistent with normal delivery schedules. However, some of our menu items may be temporarily limited at some restaurants in this current environment.”

Schauer said the company is working to minimize the impact to its customers and restaurants and monitoring the issue.

Wendy’s has always prided itself on using fresh beef in its hamburgers, so it’s unclear where the supply problems are that are affecting menu selections.

Regardless of where the shortages are being felt, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. Kroger grocery store will now limit purchases of fresh chicken, pork, and beef to two packages per customer.

New York Post:

Grocers have been bracing for a run on meat in mid-May as major meat processing plants, including Tyson Foods, have been forced to shut down production. But the shortages appear to have come earlier than expected as consumers worried about the meat shortage have been stocking up, experts say.

Tyson Foods, which had closed a number of plants last month after employees had become ill with the coronavirus, said on Monday that the pandemic will disrupt the meat supply chain for many more months despite an executive order from President Trump to keep processing plants open.

Americans aren’t used to food shortages of any kind. But in recent weeks, there have been disruptions in supplies as food hoarders descend on stores, sweeping the shelves clean. It’s unnecessary, of course, and it only makes the shortages worse.

What a fragile thing, our food distribution networks are. The amount of food being grown is unchanged. There is plenty to eat.

But getting the food from the farmer’s field to our dinner tables is proving to be a challenge.

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