Meat lockers booked solid
Disruptions in the meat processing industry have made what’s typically a slow season so busy that Burdick Meat Market & Locker is booked into February, owner Dan Hageberg said last week.
“There are other places I’ve heard about that have got the whole year booked up for 2021,” Hageberg said.
On a typical day, the Burdick market can process beef in two to three hours and hogs two each hour.
“I think the locker business is really good lately,” Hageberg said.
More customers than usual have bought beef or pigs straight from the farm.
Farmers have poor opportunities to market livestock to large packing plants because of COVID-19.
“The big boys are making over $2,000 a head,” he said. “The producers are losing $200 to $300 a head. Until all the big plants get running full force again, the producers will lose money.”
That has some farmers slaughtering livestock just to stop having to feed them.
“It’s been here lately, everybody’s dumping them or killing them,” Hageberg said.
The result is a scenario where people can buy a cattle or pigs very cheap from farmers who want to stop losing money.
“They can get $75 a head,” he said.
Prices are not so low for meat Hageberg sells over the counter, however.
He has to buy meat that has been inspected, so he cannot buy directly from a farmer.
The prices he pays for meat to make ground beef have gone from $2.49 a pound to $6.89 a pound.
“I was selling hamburger for $3.59, and now it’s $8.59,” he said.
Peabody Sausage House also is keeping busy, co-owner Jason Callahan said.
“Four months ago we were kind of bragging about being booked out two months,” Callahan said. “Now we’re booking for beef through July 2021.”
Callahan is booked through April 2021 for processing pigs.
Since an inspector visits Peabody Sausage House daily, he can buy animals directly from producers.
“We’re seeing a dramatic rise in demand for both beef and pigs,” he said. “We do still have a small retail counter where we sell ground beef and steaks. Right now we’re running thin. Our hamburger is running at $5.29 a pound because we harvest the whole animal in-house. We buy directly from the local farmer.”
Last modified June 10, 2020