HOLLAND — With sparse meat selections at grocery stores, a family-owned butcher in Holland has gained a lot of new customers.
“This is the busiest we’ve probably ever been, with the exception of deer season,” said Earl’s Meats Retail Manager Laura Draisma.
A slew of meat processing plants have been closing around the country due to employees contracting COVID-19, leading some industry leaders predicting a potential meat shortage.
Locally, the JBS meatpacking plant in Plainwell closed down temporarily in April due to 60 of its employees contracting COVID-19, and one worker dying from the virus. Boar’s Head Brand in Holland also had employees with confirmed coronavirus cases. An employee’s family member emailed The Sentinel, saying 15 people had positive cases at the Holland plant.
Earl’s Meats uses locally sourced meats, Draisma said, and unlike grocery stores, they are able to cut whole animals and have a lot of frozen product, which gives them the ability to stay in stock more easily.
“There are a few things we are going to run short on, and prices are rising quickly because demand is high supply is low,” Draisma said. “But we still have plenty of meat on the shelf.”
Meat eaters might have to get more creative when they cook, Draisma said, and potentially use ground turkey instead of ground beef, and be willing to use a pork steak instead of a pork chop.
“Pork and chicken seem quite strong, it’s beef we’ve been having a difficulty finding product,” she said. “Demand has increased exponentially.”
Earl’s is offering curbside pickup to customers that need it, and asking for a minimum on orders. A limited number of customers are allowed to come into the business, located at 5685 143rd Ave. in Holland, and are asked to wear masks, along with employees.
“Most people are doing a good job of reading our signage,” Draisma said.
Earl’s Meats has recently seen an increase of about 50 percent of new customers, if not more, Draisma said.
“We’re all family run, except a couple employees that help us out, but other than that it’s all family, we’re extending and working as much as we can to meet the need,” Draisma said.
— Contact reporter Kate Carlson at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @SentinelKate and @BizHolland.