CHICKEN is disappearing from south-west butchers but red meat stocks are unchanged despite new restrictions on Victorian abattoirs throwing supplies into question.
Warrnambool's Lucas Brothers Butchers owner Peter Harris said a shutdown of some meat processors in Melbourne had halved the amount of chicken usually received.
But Mr Harris said panic buying would only make the situation worse, and he reminded shoppers "to be considerate in a very trying time".
"People can't afford to panic buy, because that's when the issues happen. The supply won't be there," he said.
"In March it lasted for two weeks and then it slowly evened out. This time people are going to be more prepared."
The butcher receives all of his red meat from Warrnambool's Midfield Meat but Mr Harris did not expect stock issues despite coronavirus restrictions cutting abattoir workforces by a third.
He said some shoppers were stocking up on beef mince and basic cuts but there had been no changes in supply.
"As far as this week goes it's all operating as normal, moving forwards it's 'who knows?' But I would be pretty confident production will be flowing on for us as normal," he said.
Norfolk Butchers manager Rick Hahn said the butcher had about 10 per cent of the chicken it normally stocked.
But Mr Hahn also said the supply of red meat would be unchanged.
"The abattoirs actually don't know if they're reduced. They are all trying to understand it themselves," he said.
"Pretty much with our red meat we will be right. My experience with Midfield is they'll look after the locals."
The butcher saw meat sales double on Monday amid announcements for abattoirs.
"I think the biggest shortage will be chicken, but hopefully temporarily," Mr Hahn said.
Meanwhile, two packs per customer purchase limits have returned for some meats at big supermarkets.
For Woolworths that includes pork, lamb, beef and chicken while Coles has restricted mince meat, chicken breast and chicken thigh sales.
A Coles spokeswoman said the company was working with suppliers and had "made alternative sourcing arrangements" where needed.
"We ask that customers only buy what they need to ensure everyone in our community can purchase the products they need," she said.
Woolworths' key abattoir providers are based in regional Victoria and the company expects the facilities will be able to continue operating as usual.
A statement said the company was "confident" in maintaining fresh meat supplies during the six-week lockdown.
"We'll monitor the impact closely as the restrictions come into effect later in the week."
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