Close to one in every five Wendy’s restaurants are almost entirely out of beef as meat shortages brought on by the coronavirus have hit the fast-food chain particularly hard.
As CNN Business reported, the corporate office for the nationwide chain said that some menu items have been unavailable as supply chain difficulties have led to a massive shortage of meat-based items. One analyst pegs the total number of affected restaurants at close to 20 percent — roughly 1,000 of the company’s 5,500 locations.
The report noted that because Wendy’s relies on fresh beef rather than frozen, it is more exposed to the burgeoning meat shortages.
A spokesperson for the company said they are currently working on the problem.
“We’re working diligently to minimize the impact to our customers and restaurants, and continue to work with our supplier partners to monitor this closely,” the spokesperson told CNN Business.
These locations have still been able to keep chicken-based items on the menu, but it is not clear when meat could be back on the menu, or how much further the shortages could spread and how many more restaurants could be affected. Experts have said that the supply lines for meat products will continue to be impacted by the coronavirus.
The meat shortages have been brought on by meat processing plants that have had to close due to the spread of the coronavirus. As Business Insider reported, meat processor Tyson just announced second-quarter profits that were down close to 15 percent, and the company issued a warning that more shutdowns of processing locations are likely to happen in the coming weeks as the effects of the virus continue to stretch across the country.
In some plants, hundreds of employees have been sidelines after becoming infected.
“We have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety,” Tyson said in a press release.
“The lower levels of productivity and higher costs of production we have experienced will likely continue in the short term until the effects of COVID-19 diminish.”
Industry experts have warned that the shutdowns will lead to growing meat shortages at grocery stores and restaurants.
Analyst James Rutherford of Stephens, which has tracked the number of affected Wendy’s locations, told CNN Business that the affected locations depend on geography, specifically the proximity to closed meat processing plants. That means in Ohio, Michigan, and New York, close to 30 percent of Wendy’s locations have run out of meat. In other states like Arizona and Nevada, they have not been affected, Rutherford said.