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Navigating Inflation: Brian McManigal says preparing meat in-house helps him keep prices in check

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Brian McManigal is the third generation of McManigals to own Mac's Market in Tyrone.

Brian McManigal Jr. has witnessed the effects of inflation and COVID’s supply chain disruptions from behind the butcher counter of Mac’s Market and The Gridiron.

Before the pandemic, there was a rhythmic cycle in meat prices.

Chicken wing prices rose during the football season, beef and steak peaked in the summertime, and fish rose during the Lenten season.

Brian’s grandfather, Wilmer “Mac” McManigal, opened Mac’s Market in 1974. Brian’s father became a partner in 1984 and took over the store in 1989. They added “The Gridiron” in 2007 and started making prepared food. Brian Jr. became a full partner in 2009.

Although there have recently been dramatic and unexpected fluctuations in meat prices, the changes the shop has experienced have not been as out of control as big box store and local grocery prices.

Brian says the main reason for this lies in how they process meat compared to grocery chains.

While many stores acquire meat already prepared and are forced to conform to prices set by their suppliers, at Mac’s Market they cut and grind the meat themselves, which allows them more control over prices.

Brian has been forced to raise prices as well, but he does so at a rate based on how much more he’s been asked to pay for the supply.

“If it goes up $0.50 a pound for me, it goes up $0.50 to pay for the customer,” Brian said.

His profit margins have stayed consistent for most items, but with the avian bird flu outbreak in 2022, the shop felt the impact in their turkey prices and a reduction in margins.

The only meat price that has remained unchanged recently is the price of pork at an average of $4 per pound.

When Brian reflects on past price fluctuations and the more recent increases and increases and increases, he says this is not a tune he knows.

“It used to be a rhythmic thing,” Brian said, “but now it's kind of like that [unpredictable] song that we're listening to now.”

Read the rest of the profiles of Tyrone area residents Navigating Inflation.

Abby Chachoute is a student reporter for the News Lab at Penn State.
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