BETHLEHEM, Pa. - It's a move to help stretch the meat supply across the nation. Costco is the latest retailer to limit the amount of meat customers can buy during one trip.

"They learned from what happened with other shortages in canned food, pastas, in the produce section because we have all this panic buying happening," said Philip Coles, a professor of practice in supply chain management at Lehigh University.

People are buying more because they hear about the coronavirus outbreaks shutting down some food processing plants, which means businesses large and small can't get their products processed.

"Today they only had a couple, tomorrow they are not killing. So that affects me, next week it's going to affect me because everything that was supposed to do this week is going to get doubled up next week and that is really going to tax the living daylights out of me," said Sebastian Loiacono with Nello's Specialty Meats.

That hiccup in processing is going to drive up costs as well.

"We know when there is increased demand and reduced supply the prices go up," Coles said.

Coles says there are a lot of reasons for the increase.

"People are afraid to come in, they're giving them bonuses, that's an increased cost. There's a lot of increased costs that can happen that they need to overcome in order to be able to increase the supply," Coles said.

Coles also believes the free market will help in addition to limits. If the price of meat goes higher, then there will be less panic buying, which will allow for processors and farmers to keep an adequate supply.

"The higher prices help prevent the hoarding. People that are going to get one extra will say look how expensive this is maybe I shouldn't get so much," Coles said.

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