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US's largest supermarket chain to limit ground beef and fresh pork purchases

Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., will impose limits on fresh pork and ground beef purchases at some stores as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts domestic meat processing.

“We feel good about our ability to maintain a broad assortment of meat and seafood for our customers because we purchase protein from a diverse network of suppliers,” a Kroger representative told Fox59 in Indianapolis.

“There is plenty of protein in the supply chain," the representative added. "However, some processors are experiencing challenges.”

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The Hill has requested details from Kroger.

Numerous major meat suppliers have closed their doors in recent weeks as the pandemic strikes workers, the TV station noted. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union said last week that at least 20 food processing and meatpacking workers have died from the virus. The union said that plant closures have cut pork slaughter capacity 25 percent and beef slaughter capacity 10 percent.

Demand for meat is also up amid the closures, with sales increasing around 40 percent, according to the station, which cited data from the grocery industry trade group FMI. The increased demand “also makes it difficult to keep the store shelves stocked as they were at pre-pandemic levels,” said a spokesperson for the group.

Walmart, the country’s largest overall grocer, does not anticipate having to set product limitations, according to the outlet, citing a person familiar with the situation. A spokesperson for Wegman’s said the company does not anticipate shortages, but “we may not have every product cut or variety available for the next few weeks.”

However, Av Kaner, co-owner of Morton Williams, said the grocery chain’s biggest shortages have been for packaged cold cuts, with pre-packaged products in higher demand than deli meat. “Beef prices have increased the most, followed less so by pork and poultry,” Kaner said.

Nearly 900 workers at an Indiana Tyson Foods plant have tested positive for the virus, according a report last week. On Tuesday, President TrumpDonald John TrumpFox News president, top anchors advised to quarantine after coronavirus exposure: report Six notable moments from Trump and Biden's '60 Minutes' interviews Biden on attacks on mental fitness: Trump thought '9/11 attack was 7/11 attack' MORE designated meat processing plants critical infrastructure under the Defense Production Act, ordering them to remain open.