Las Vegas meat distributors battle bird flu, inflation ahead of Thanksgiving
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Avian flu, a highly contagious strain of the flu that primarily infects birds, is driving up the costs for some Thanksgiving dishes.
Freedom Meats, a small private company that cuts and distributes meat to most of the high-end steakhouses in town, experienced a slowdown during the pandemic and is now taking a hit due to inflation.
“The loads that we buy not just on protein, film, boxes, anything we use in this building, our suppliers are raising our freight rates because of the diesel situation,” said Vice President of purchasing for Freedom Meats James Beikman.
Beikman said one semi-load that carries 40,000 pounds is costing the company an increase of 12 cents per pound.
“That’s additional $4,800 a load that we are paying that is being spread out over the cost of that load,” said Beikman.
He said while they are fully stocked up with most meats, getting turkeys is a challenge due to inflation and the bird flu costing him $2.00 a pound more for turkeys this year then it costed him last year.
“We were allocated and rationed by our suppliers,” said Beikman. “We are not getting we were projected to have. So, what we have to sell, when they are gone, they are gone.”
Beikman is not the only one struggling.
“Turkeys are short, and I am sure everybody has heard about it and it is a true fact,” said Butcher Block owner Ron Lutz. “A lot of people are opting for prime rib with turkey, or they are doing ducks or something like that with their turkey as well cause a lot of the smaller ones are available, but the bigger ones are not.”
While Lutz said he is able to take any and all orders for turkeys for Thanksgiving, this is not the case for Freedom Meats.
“Any new orders, we are not taking,” said Beikman. “If a customer did not give us their orders here in July, August or September they are good but any new orders, we will not be able to fill.”
Freedom Meats said it is selling free range organic turkeys ranging from $3.99 to $4.29 a pound and selling regular commodity turkeys starting at $2.29 a pound.
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