Finding Workers & Securing Repeat Customers Key For Small Meat Locker Start-Ups

Statewide Iowa — After disruption in the meat supply at the start of the pandemic, the federal government will spend half a billion dollars to expand meat and poultry processing and another 150 million specifically for small meat lockers.

In Iowa, officials are reviewing 72 applications for grants from a 750-thousand dollar state fund for expanding meat lockers. Iowa State University economist Chad Hart grew up in southwest Missouri where his parents ran a small meat locker for several decades and he says running a meat locker is hard work.

Finding people capable of doing the work in a meat locker will be difficult, according to Hart.

A side of beef is usually between four-hundred and five-hundred pounds. A whole pig routinely weighs between 150 and two-hundred pounds. The other conundrum for meat lockers is building a customer base willing to pay more for locally raised and processed meat — since meat from the four large corporate processors will cost less per pound.

Hart says securing repeat customers is key for meat lockers.

Hart made his comments during a recent appearance on Iowa Press on Iowa PBS.



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