Rolling meat shortages are now underway in the US. We warned several weeks ago that this would begin in the first half of May as a crisis unfolds at the nation's meat processing plants due to coronavirus outbreaks.
At the moment, the food supply chain is cracking. At least a dozen processing plants have shuttered operations and output reduced at others, resulting in surging wholesale beef prices and shortages at supermarkets.
The first signs of a shortage materialized last Friday when supermarket chain Kroger said that it has put "purchase limits" on ground beef and fresh pork. Now it appears the shortage has hit some fast-food restaurants.
Just as Americans are breaking out of their government-enforced stay-at-home orders and craving fast-food, many have taken to social media to voice outrage that patty shortages are appearing at numerous Wendy's restaurants in various states.
Stephens analyst James Rutherford noted 18% of Wendy's restaurants were "completely sold out of beef items as of Monday evening," reported Bloomberg.
"By our count 1,043 Wendy's units were selling zero beef items yesterday evening," but within the figure, about 128 restaurants were still selling beef chili. Rutherford added that the shortage varies across the country and said some restaurants still have full menus, while states like Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, Connecticut, and New York are "fully out of fresh beef." The note also said Wendy's is "more exposed" to meat shortages because of its reliance on fresh beef compared with its competitors.
WXYZ-TV Detroit's Simon Shaykhet tweeted Monday, "WARREN DRIVE THRU: "I went there for lunch to grab the kids some frosties & everything. They were just like we don't have any beef today." @Wendys customer responds to #beef shortage at fast food location at 10 mile & Ryan."
WARREN DRIVE THRU: “I went there for lunch to grab the kids some frosties & everything. They were just like we don’t have any beef today.” @Wendys customer responds to #beef shortage at fast food location at 10 mile & Ryan. @wxyzdetroit #coronavirus #10PM #11PM pic.twitter.com/DCABuSGD8j— Simon Shaykhet WXYZ (@simonshaykhet) May 5, 2020
Another social media user tweeted a sign at a Wendy's that read, "...we are currently experiencing issues with our meat processing supplier and are unable to serve beef products."
WJLA-TV Washington, DC, 's Victoria Sanchez tweeted, "Just went to Wendy's and saw some items aren't available. You can still get a single and double hamburger but not a triple. The employee says the fast-food chain is experiencing meat shortages."
MEAT SHORTAGE?— Victoria Sanchez (@VictoriaSanchez) May 4, 2020
Just went to Wendy’s and saw some items aren’t available. You can still get a single and double hamburger but not a triple. The employee says the fast-food chain is experiencing meat shortages. #SupplyChain #coronavirus @ABC7News pic.twitter.com/id4Myz7FZV
"As you've likely heard, beef suppliers across North America are currently facing production challenges," a statement released by Wendy's to WYMT Kentucky said.
“Because of this, some of our menu items may be in short supply from time to time at some restaurants in this current environment. We expect this to be temporary, and we’re working diligently to minimize the impact to our customers and restaurants.”
Here are more Twitter users reporting shortages...
So over the weekend i was going to pre-order my Wendy’s pick up. On the app it only allowed for chicken sandwiches... me being who i am and only wanting a baconator called and was told bc of meat shortage, all beef (pause) orders can only be made at drive thru. #THEmoreYOUknow— G.W. Gras (@GeeSteelio) May 4, 2020
Wendy’s won’t do 4 for 4 because there’s a meat shortage. I...might..die— Brotato (@_YoBrotato) April 29, 2020
Wendy's stock slipped nearly 4% Tuesday on the news of patty shortages.
According to Forbes, Wendy's is not the only fast-food restaurant suffering from patty shortages. McDonald's supply chain in Canada has come under pressure and started to source beef products outside the country.
“Due to unprecedented COVID-19 impacts on the Canadian beef supply chain, we are temporarily adjusting our supply to incorporate beef from outside Canada – from pre-approved McDonald’s suppliers and facilities globally – in order to meet the current demand, effective immediately,” a statement from McDonald’s read.
And for some humor, here's a classic Wendy's commercial titled "Where's the Beef?."