Are you planning on indulging in some delicious corned beef this St. Patrick’s Day?
Well, you might be in for some bad news. Reports suggest that there is a shortage of corned beef due to a variety of factors, including a lack of workers and shipping issues.
This has caused prices to soar, making it difficult for some butchers and delis to stock the meat. Even canned corned beef has been affected by recalls and import issues.
So, is there really a shortage of corned beef? Let’s take a closer look at the situation and find out.
Is There A Shortage Of Corned Beef?
Yes, there is a shortage of corned beef in some areas. The production of corned beef is labor-intensive, and the cost of the brisket it’s made from has increased. This, coupled with a lack of workers in the plants to process the beef and shipping issues, has caused prices to soar.
Some butchers and delis have had to refuse to stock corned beef due to the high prices, while others have raised the price of their corned beef products. Even canned corned beef has been affected by recalls and import issues, causing intermittent shortages in some areas.
Factors Contributing To The Corned Beef Shortage
Several factors have contributed to the shortage of corned beef. One major factor is the labor shortage in the plants that process beef. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many workers have been forced to stay home, while others have resigned due to low wages and poor working conditions. This has resulted in a lack of workers available to make the goods, move the goods, and sell the goods.
Another factor is supply chain issues. The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia has disrupted supply chains from Europe heavily, affecting the availability of corned beef in some areas. Shipping issues have also played a role in the shortage, with delays and interruptions causing intermittent shortages.
The increasing demand for meat in developing countries, particularly in Asia, is another contributing factor. As these countries become wealthier, their citizens are consuming more meat, leading to a higher demand for it globally. This increased demand has led to record beef exports from the U.S. to Asia, which causes us to further depend on imported meat to fill the gap in our own stores and meals.
Lastly, at the individual level in industrial countries, our food consumption habits contribute to the shortage. We throw away too much food in households and eat too much meat. It takes three kilograms of cereals to generate one kilogram of pork in the production process. Therefore, reducing our meat consumption can help alleviate the shortage of corned beef and other meat products.
Impact On Prices And Availability
The shortage of corned beef has led to a significant increase in prices, making it more expensive for consumers to purchase. The owner of Jack and Pat’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop reported that the cost of corned beef has increased from $470-$480 last year to $790-$805 this year. Manny’s Deli, known for its corned beef, has also raised the price of its sandwich by $1.
This shortage is not limited to corned beef alone. The meat industry forecast for 2023 predicts a significant decrease in the supply of beef, leading to higher prices for everyone. Reports estimate that on average, Americans will eat 5.6% less beef this year due to shortages.
If this trend continues, it could lead to a 20% price spike for beef in 2023, making it more difficult for consumers to afford meat products. As such, it is crucial for consumers to secure their supply now before prices rise even further.
Challenges Faced By Butchers And Delis
Butchers and delis are facing several challenges due to the shortage of corned beef. One of the major challenges is the increased cost of corned beef, which has made it difficult for some small businesses to afford. As a result, some butchers and delis have had to refuse to stock corned beef or raise the price of their products, which may deter customers from buying.
Another challenge faced by butchers and delis is the lack of workers in the plants to process the beef. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the meat and poultry industry, leading to labor shortages and disruptions in the supply chain. This has resulted in delays in processing and shipping, causing intermittent shortages in some areas.
Furthermore, some delis are facing staffing shortages, which have affected their ability to serve customers during busy lunch hours. The shortage of eggs and other ingredients has also impacted their ability to offer a full menu, leading to a loss or interruption of some deli staples.
To overcome these challenges, butchers and delis may need to implement multiple solutions. For instance, they may need to find alternative sources of corned beef or consider offering other meat products that are more readily available. They may also need to invest in technology and automation to improve productivity and reduce labor costs. Additionally, they may need to adopt new safety protocols to protect their workers from COVID-19 and ensure a steady supply of meat products for their customers.
Recalls And Import Issues Affecting Canned Corned Beef
Canned corned beef, a popular and affordable meal option, has been affected by recalls and import issues that have caused shortages in some areas. In March 2021, Milky Way International Trading Corp., doing business as MW Polar, recalled approximately 297,715 pounds of ready-to-eat canned corned beef products that were imported and distributed in the United States without the benefit of FSIS import re-inspection. The canned corned beef items were imported on various dates between June 6, 2020 to Jan. 21, 2021. The cans are labeled with various “Best Before” dates and the product cases are labeled with various shipping marks. The affected codes can be found on the chart provided by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The problem was discovered after FSIS received a tip from an industry representative indicating that corned beef product received from Milky Way did not undergo FSIS import re-inspection. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. However, FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ pantries or in their refrigerators. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.
This recall has caused intermittent shortages of canned corned beef in some areas, as retailers including Walmart have pointed to last year’s recalls as a cause for the product not being on store shelves. While retailers and manufacturers have been reticent to discuss the shortage, Walmart confirmed the problem to Consumer Ally.
In addition to recalls, import issues have also affected canned corned beef. The USDA announced a recall of Ox & Palm corned beef products in March 2021 because of a lack of re-inspection. The canned corned beef items were imported on various dates between June 6, 2020, to January 21, 2021. The cans are labeled with “Best Before” dates between 2023 and 2026. The inspection issue was discovered after receiving a tip from an industry representative who said the corned beef product they received from the importer had not gone through FSIS import re-inspection.
Alternative Options For St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
If you’re looking for alternative options for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate Irish culture and heritage. Instead of focusing solely on corned beef and cabbage, consider exploring other traditional Irish dishes such as shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, or Irish stew.
You could also attend a traditional Irish music session or dance performance. Many cities have Irish cultural centers or organizations that host events and performances during the holiday. Additionally, consider visiting an Irish pub or brewery for a pint of Guinness or another Irish beer.
For those who want to participate in the festivities but prefer a non-alcoholic option, consider attending a family-friendly event such as a parade or festival. Many cities host St. Patrick’s Day parades featuring floats, marching bands, and colorful costumes.
Finally, consider volunteering with an Irish-American organization or charity to give back to the community and celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way. There are many opportunities to get involved with organizations that promote Irish culture and heritage or support the Irish-American community.