Beef quality upped at grocery stores during coronavirus pandemic
If home-cooked burgers seem to taste better than usual lately, it’s not just because they’re harder to get.
As the pandemic spurs meat shortages nationwide, the ground beef at many supermarkets is quietly getting upgraded with better cuts that would normally go to restaurants, industry experts said.
While ground chuck, round and sirloin is typically made with leftover trimmings, much of the packaged burger meat turning up on shelves in recent weeks is also cut with the premium stuff: brisket, chuck steak and short ribs.
“A burger maker [or supermarket] is going to buy anything they can grind into chopped meat and we are starting to see that happen,” Gary Morrison, vice president of UrnerBarry, a price reporting agency for the meat industry, told The Post.
That’s because sit-down restaurants that typically buy those better cuts have been shut down nationwide amid state ordered lockdowns, according to Andy Wiederhorn, chief executive of Fat Brands, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based franchisor for 375 eateries including Fatburger, Bonanza Steakhouse and Ponderosa Steakhouse.
“The burgers will get better for a few weeks, because there is a glut of prime meat,” Wiederhorn said.
Upscale restaurants in the Big Apple like Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village offer a $33 “Black Label Burger” with “a selection of prime dry-aged cuts,” according to its menu.
While those goodies are sure to be found at corner grocers in the coming weeks, the catch is that there will be no way to tell exactly what you’re getting, says Richard Romanoff, chief executive of Nebraskaland, a meat wholesaler in the Bronx.
“People have no idea what’s in their chuck meat anyway,” Romanoff said, adding that supermarket packages simply say 100 percent beef rather than the type of cut.
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