Oklahoma Meat Processors, Sellers See Increased Sales During Coronavirus Pandemic

Monday, May 18th 2020, 9:33 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

CLAREMORE, Okla. - With national food supply chains strained, more Oklahomans are buying their meat directly from ranchers.

Now, some local meat processors are seeing demand sky-rocket.

A local processor said they're usually booked up for a couple months. Now, they're booked solid for more than a year. 

Lyndon Walke at Walke Meat Company in Claremore said their burst in business was sudden as COVID-19 began changing supply chains.

"Now we're booked until September of 2021. It was overnight. Our business tripled."

Walke Meat Company processes animals from ranchers and sells their own meat on the side.

He said ranchers saw a huge demand in people wanting to buy beef locally as consumers saw meat disappear from grocery aisles.

In turn, that made Walke's processing demands higher than ever.

Walke had to hire more people and buy new equipment to keep up.

"We're turning away more people than we're booking now with how far we're booked out," Walke said.

Marie Bush, who owns Tallgrass Heritage, a grass-fed beef delivery company, said her business has exploded, too.

But she said getting meat processed is the newest challenge.

"Everyone here locally is totally full for at least a year," she said.

Bush said to be able to get her cattle processed and resell the cuts to customers, it has to be inspected by a USDA inspected facility, like Walke Meat Company.

Walke said there are fewer than 10 such facilities in Oklahoma.

Both Walke and Bush said it's tough to keep up, but still a blessing to have all the new business.

"It's been fun kind of developing these relationships and meeting people who wouldn't have otherwise know what we're doing," Walke said.

Bush said she's now taking some of her cattle to Arkansas since most processors in Oklahoma are booked for months.