May 4, 2020 / 1:01 PM / 24 days ago

Costco limits meat purchases as supply shortages loom

(Reuters) - Costco Wholesale Corp said on Monday it had limited the number of beef, pork and poultry products customers can buy, as grocery stores prepare for massive shortages of meat supplies following coronavirus-induced supply disruptions.

Some of the biggest slaughterhouses in the United States closed over the last few weeks as COVID-19 spread widely through meat processing facilities where large groups of employees often work shoulder to shoulder in difficult conditions.

Costco said it would temporarily limit fresh beef, pork and poultry purchases to a total of 3 items per Costco member, following Kroger Co, which has put purchase limits on ground beef and fresh pork at some of its stores.

Starting Monday, Costco will also require all shoppers to wear masks or face coverings to reduce the chances of transmission of the virus. (bit.ly/2W0Odpv)

John Tyson, chairman of the United States’ largest meat processing company Tyson Foods Inc said last week the food supply chain was “breaking” and millions of pounds of meat would vanish from grocery stores in the country.

U.S. President Donald Trump later ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect food supplies, a move that drew backlash from unions that said at-risk workers needed more protection.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

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