Skyrocketing meat prices put strain on local small businesses

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MENTOR, Ohio (WJW) – A shortage of staffing has the owners of Barb and Patty’s Butcher Palace in Mentor staying on the grind. 

“Working like we did back in our 20s, I mean 5 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., sometimes 10 at night to try to get all the work done,” said co-owner Barbara Wisch.

They’re also balancing another shortage — their main product. 

“Even last fall, everything was just great. The prices had come down, everything was back to normal and then all of a sudden, January, February, March, it just was insane,” Wisch said.

North American meat prices have skyrocketed, putting strain on small businesses.

“Our ground chuck used to be 4.99 a pound and now it’s 6.49 a pound,” Wisch said.

It’s also putting a strain on customers. 

“All over and we’ve been recently down in Florida. It’s everywhere,” said shopper Judy Ursick. “We’re all in the same boat.”

Patrick Costello lives and shops at grocery stores in Louisiana. 

“About every time I’ve come in, they’ve gone up a little bit. Same with gas. Meat’s gotten ridiculous,” he said.

FOX 8 met him while shopping at Mentor Family Foods on Lakeshore Boulevard, where items like pork and California produce have also gone up. They’ve dealt with inflation before and attribute this spike to a perfect storm of issues. 

“You’re in a situation right now with timing, terrible weather that they have out in California, the holiday’s coming up, the trucking industry with the price of gas and not enough drivers, the whole packaging cost,” said one of the owners, PJ Conway.

“People not going back to work, not having an incentive to go back,” added Wisch.

These small businesses are doing what they can to try and help their customers from feeling the pinch at the register.

“I’ll tell them, ‘Don’t get a top round roast or whatever. Get an eye of round. We’ve got a good deal on it. We’ve got a lot. $4.99 a pound. Get that instead,” said Wisch.

“You bite the bullet on the first couple raises, you know, because you don’t want to be the first guy to raise his price. You also can’t be the last guy to raise your price either, because then you’re not here,” said Conway.

But these long-running staples of their communities are working hard to stay. 

“It will be better. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but eventually it’s going to get better. It always does,” said Conway.

Both of these businesses are hiring. There is also worry about certain supplies ahead of the holidays.

Consumers tell FOX 8 they have shifted the portions or certain cuts of their meats to adjust for the higher price for their regular shopping.

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