Indiana producers see an increase in meat sales amid coronavirus pandemic
Two Farm Bureau member families in Indiana are adjusting their business models to meet demand for protein that can’t be found on some grocery shelves due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mike and Sarah Hertsel raise purebred Berkshire hogs in Elkhart County and market directly to consumers.
Mike says they previously sold pork either whole hog or half-side, but recently began including single cuts of meat.
“Just before the COVID-19 hit we were running into a lot of customers that wanted to buy smaller packages and we put together three different bundle options- a breakfast bundle, a griller’s box, and a Berkshire bundle,” he says. “Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and people were wanting to buy meat anyway, but there were also people who were worried they weren’t going to have access to it.”
He says having individual cuts available to customers has been incredibly successful and they’ve sold more pigs in the first quarter of this year than they did all last year.
Kelly and Jonathan Shannon raise hogs and chickens on their farm in Montgomery County.
Kelly says their business model has changed over the years. They began by selling pork by the whole hog or half-side before selling at farmers markets and then eventually opened a store in historic downtown Crawfordsville to be able to sell individual cuts to customers year-round.
She says sales have picked up significantly in the past 10-14 days because of the coronavirus.
“Our sales at the store have exponentially increased over the last two weeks with the lack of meat choices at the grocery store and customers are wanting to have some things they can put in their freezer and have it ready,” she says.
The couple also recently bought chicken breasts from another local producer to resell in their shop and meet consumer demand. Greg Gunthrop typically sells directly to restaurants and has been impacted by the restaurant closures.