Fort Lauderdale meat distributor to sell to the public amid meat shortage

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - With the supply of meat in the U.S. shrinking because of COVID-19 related factory shutdowns, some restaurants and stores are limiting sales, but a local distributor is trying to provide a solution for shoppers.

Halperns’ Steak and Seafood in Fort Lauderdale will be selling their meat to the public to help combat a meat shortage.

“Once the fear gets out into the community and people start to do the same thing to the meat supply as they did to toilet paper, you are going to see the shelves bare fairly quickly,” U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said.

Some fast food restaurants are running low on burgers, and some supermarkets are limiting how much chicken and steak people can buy.

The virus has forced the closure of almost 20 meat packing plants, including two of the nation’s largest: Tyson Foods in Iowa and Smithfield Foods in South Dakota. Production has slowed in other locations, as workers stay home, so they don’t contract the virus.

Halperns’ normally only sells to restaurants, hotels and hospitals. Their business is down 65% due to the pandemic.

Glen Miciotta, the company’s president, said they currently have “chicken breast, shrimp, rib eyes, bone-in ribeyes, cowboy stakes, tomahawk steaks.”

Normally, their storage warehouse would be 100% full of beef and seafood, but it is only at about 15% capacity because of low demand. It’s a lot of meat, and with a nationwide shortage, Halperns’ has started selling directly to the public.

“Hearing a lot from our friends and family saying, ‘I can’t get chicken. I can’t get pork,’ and then, we kind of folded in that they started finding the virus in a lot of production facilities, and they started shutting down,” Miciotta said. “Then, we realized, ‘Hey, no one is going to be able to get any meat.’ We can get meat.”

With business down, Halperns’ hopes selling to the public will help them keep their workers employed and give South Floridians a new option for meat and seafood, especially if items are running low in traditional supermarkets.

“Right now, we are watching our cost, watching our overhead, and in this particular case, trying to help the community a little bit,” Miciotta said.

If you are interested in buying any of the products from Halperns’, they will be selling to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and State Road 441.

The purchase line will be in a drive-thru format that will only happen on Fridays.

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