What can the beef industry expect in Q4 of 2020?

Election uncertainty; a second wave of COVID-19; holiday spending; — How will these factors impact the meat case in the fourth quarter of 2020?

Amanda Radke

October 6, 2020

3 Min Read

We are less than a month from the U.S. presidential election, and I’ve spent some time pondering how the results, one way or another, will impact the dynamics of our nation.

Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, I think we can all agree — this is not your typical election cycle. And with so much unrest and even violence in the streets along with a sitting president who provokes the most polarizing of media reporting, I can’t help but think we are in for a long couple of months as the votes are counted and the final result is official.

So what does that mean for us back at the ranch or on the feedlot? How will the election and the increased division in our country impact consumers and our meat supply?

That’s the million dollar question and one that I reflected on a few weeks ago. In case you missed that blog post, you can check it out here: Is the United States prepared for acts of agroterrorism?

Earlier this year, we saw a frenzy much like the chaos of Black Friday shopping with consumers stockpiling supplies and grocery stores running short of essentials like meat, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

With a “second wave” of COVID-19 predicted, on top of perhaps what might be massive unrest due to the election, combined with the typical craziness of increased consumer spending in the fourth quarter of the year as we lead up to the holidays — I think we may see the perfect storm for increased beef demand.

Related:There's plenty of specialty meat at the grocery store

So it begs the question — is the beef industry up to meet the challenge?

A recent article from Fox Business titled, “Grocery stores, food producers beef up inventory for potential second wave of COVID-19, holiday shopping rush,” gives us some insights on this scenario playing out in October, November, December and beyond.

Luca Manfredi writes, “According to the Wall Street Journal, Associated Food Stores has recently started building ‘pandemic pallets’ to ensure cleaning and sanitizing products are readily available in its warehouses to prepare for high demand through the end of the year.

“‘We will never again operate our business as unprepared for something like this,’ Darin Peirce, vice president of retail operations for the cooperative of more than 400 stores told the outlet.

“In addition, Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker, who oversees a chain of more than 240 supermarkets in the Midwest, told the Journal the company is stockpiling additional sanitizing, cleaning, and paper products when possible, though full variety hasn't returned.

“Hormel Foods CEO James Snee noted in the company’s third-quarter earnings call that while the company isn't seeing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is still making ‘significant increases’ in some of its core center store items such as pepperoni, bacon, SPAM, as the company seeks to mitigate the risk of disruptions from a potential second wave of the virus.”

Related:Where’s the meat? Grocery stores & restaurants scrambling to serve

Moving forward, if you have a half or quarter of beef for sale, it will likely be in high demand locally as we close out 2021. At the grocery store, expect to see shortages of beef or other essential supplies, as well. But don’t worry, I think retailers, grocers, packers, wholesalers and the agricultural industry as a whole will rise to the occasion and meet the changing needs of society during these uncertain times.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Farm Progress.

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