‘Meat’ing the demand: Local meat markets see increase in business during pandemic


People turned to local meat markets once grocery stores ran low on product

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Business has been booming for local meat markets during the pandemic.

“The beginning, it was crazy. We were super swamped. We ended up getting a lot of new business, though,” said Maren Rankin, manager at Rankin’s Meat Market in Columbiana.

At the start of the pandemic, many people started stockpiling. Grocery stores couldn’t keep up with the demand, so individuals turned to local meat markets.

“We’re able to buy local beef, local pigs, help out the area farmers and still supply meat for anybody that wants to purchase it,” said Rob Donaldson, owner of Horst Packing in Columbiana.

Like grocery stores, farmers and distributors were having trouble keeping up with the demand so Rankin’s and Horst turned to local farmers.

“We’ve always had a relationship. I have local, certain people. We always buy local beef that I knew had really nice stuff,” said Donaldson. “This year, we had to reach out just a little bit farther. I bought some stuff out of a local livestock auction to get our needs met.”

“We were having trouble ordering stuff in, so when it came down to that, we partnered with them (local farmers),” Rankin said.

She said they would like to keep the partnership with local farms, and customers seem to like it, too.

“Being local is a big benefit to us,” she said.

Both say it’s been more work to keep up with the demand, and Rankin had to hire more people to keep up.

“Our slow season was busier than our busiest time of the year last year,” Donaldson said.

The slow season is usually from February to early spring, and the busy season starts around fair time. It gets busier as fall progresses.

Each place offers an array of meat and poultry but had specific requests from customers that flocked to their storefronts.

“Either ground beef or sausage because those are both versatile items that you could do a lot with,” Donaldson said.

Rankin said it was all about their jerky they make in-house.

“Because so many people wanted it, as soon as it went in the case it was sold out,” Rankin said. “That was something we didn’t have in the beginning. We’re starting to get back to doing that.”

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