LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - America has always been known as the land of plenty, but as the coronavirus has stressed the nation’s economy, consumers have turned to fighting for hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and now, some food items in local grocery stores.
“America has the cheapest and most abundant food system in the world,” Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles explained. “Kentucky agriculture is committed to keeping us fed during this global pandemic.”
Quarles is working to make sure Kentuckians not only have enough of what is needed but what is available at an affordable price.
He says among the items that have seen the biggest price hikes in the grocery store is meat. Chicken, pork, and beef have not only increased in price, but they are also harder to find.
“It’s not the grocery stores,” Quarles stressed. “It’s the processors that are profiting off this. Kentucky is the biggest beef cattle state east of the Mississippi. Bred here, born here but they are actually processed in the Midwest.”
Quarles is now calling on the Department of Justice to check out what is going on at the checkout line in grocery stores because the price of beef is so high.
“We are supportive of an investigation with the attorney general’s office when it comes to price collusion,” Quarles said.
COVID-19 panic also has some consumers stocking up or hoarding certain items. The global health crisis has highlighted the vulnerabilities of the global supply chain.
“We are trying to understand some of the supply chain issues that have really been highlighted since this global pandemic,” said Quarles. “The sheer number of Kentuckians going to the grocery store continues to remain high.”
That means more people in the stores, more shopping, and more people cooking at home as restaurants wait to fully re-open is adding another chink in the supply chain.
”Even a small change of consumer preference, going to the grocery store versus a restaurant can have retail and price effects at the grocery store,” Quarles explained. “A lot of food that is processed for the restaurants cannot be easily converted to grocery store items.”
Local farmers’ markets, which are abundant in WAVE Country, have supplied some relief as families search for affordable food. It is a chance to buy unprocessed, local, affordable food in the open fresh air.