KANSAS CITY, MO. — As concerns for the food supply chain continue to worry food companies and consumers, the frozen meat market remains steady in the short term, said Sophie Mellet-Grinnell, protein market specialist for Baldor Specialty Foods.

However, Mellet-Grinnell said how long that trend would last is hard to forecast with the ongoing threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) for American meat producers.  

“I can’t tell how the marketplace will be affected,” she said. “I don’t know how long this will last.”

Mellet-Grinnell said the availability of meat products over the next few weeks would depend on the packers and how much inventory there will be for processors. 

“The packers are subject to the same labor issues as the rest of us (closing schools and child care for example),” she said. “The whispering is that some plants are already shutting down for a two-week period. The ones still open are doing their best to bulk up inventories to make up for closures.”

Mellet-Grinnell said that during the crisis, consumers should not be concerned about the safety of processing facilities because they are cleaner than most people’s kitchens. She said an obvious advantage to frozen meats is its longer shelf life compared to fresh meat.

In terms of shelf life, Mellet-Grinnell said frozen beef, for example, is safe and edible for up to one year and that freezing products does not diminish its nutritional value. Whole chickens can also last one year and parts can last up to nine months. Consumers can check the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service guidelines for the proper way of freezing and refreezing a variety of food items. 

“I am confident that there is a stockpile of frozen meat that will get us through,” Mellet-Grinnell said.