• Last modified 591 days ago (Dec. 31, 2020)


High demand makes '21 promising for meat shops

Staff writer

Jeremy Sheffler and Jason Callahan already were booked for six months when they took over Peabody Sausage House as co-owners in June. The partners have only gotten busier since then.

The business is booked through 2021 and is scheduling into 2022. The backlog has forced them to decrease how many advance orders they are accepting, Sheffler said.

“I think we’re going to cut back on appointment right now,” he said. “There’s no reason to be booking hogs that aren’t born yet. I mean, we’ll still book them, but less.”

People are taking an interest in becoming more educated and buying meat directly from wholesalers, Sheffler said, which makes him confident in maintaining the trend.

“I foresee it staying this way,” he said. “We take a lot of new customers who have never done this before. I’ve noticed a lot of that in the last few months, and they love the experience. We try to make it as easy as possible because I know it can be intimidating if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Peabody Sausage House isn’t alone in seeing more demand.

Burdick Meat Market, which is booked for six months, has customers traveling from as far as Dodge City, owner Dan Hageberg said.

“It’s kind of nice to have the business,” he said. “It’s just strange to have all these people who all of a sudden decided they had to have meat because they changed from what they used to do.”

People are willing to travel 2½ hours or more because they are unable to get in at their local meat lockers, Hageberg said.

“They just keep going further out,” he said. “Everybody just keeps reaching out further until they find a place that can get them in.”

He estimates his business is processing a full cow more of beef per day than before COVID-19. Hageberg also is taking in more venison, which he says is partially because not all meat lockers process deer.

Peabody Sausage House had to adapt to handle its increased production, Sheffler said. That included updating much of its equipment.

“How can we use modern technology to get this thing running smoother?” he said. “We’ve implemented a lot of new technology and new ways to do things. I’m always looking at the new best thing; I want this thing to run more efficiently.”

Having more work also meant more than doubling staff. Peabody Sausage House went from having two employees when Sheffler and Callahan took over, to employing seven people.

“I’d like to add more eventually,” Sheffler said. “We have a lot of big plans for the future. It’s just that you can’t eat an elephant in one bite, you have to keep nibbling at it.”

The biggest limit for Hageberg is how much space he has available.

“I have about all the people right now that I can keep busy,” he said. “That’s where it all comes down to.”

Last modified Dec. 31, 2020