Groceries could see meat shortages by end of week

This is not the time to pig out.

Beef, chicken and pork could be as scarce as toilet paper soon because so many meat processing plants have been temporarily shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, industry experts are warning.

“We’ve just completed our third week of reduced slaughter and production,” Dennis Smith, a commodity broker/livestock analyst with Archer Financial Services in Chicago, said. “My guess is that about one week out, perhaps around May 1, shortages will begin developing at retail meat counters.”

Overall meat production is down 25 percent, Smith said, “which is a huge decline.”

It might be time to save some bacon, since the amount of pork in frozen storage dropped last month by 4 percent, to 621 million pounds, the Department of Agriculture reported last week.

“The cause of the shortage is reduced production due to labor issues at the packing plants,” Smith said. “Some plants have closed for deep cleaning and will remain closed until the employee base has recovered from the virus. Others are implementing safety procedures which in effect slows processing speed at the plants.”

Case in point: The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota — the state that is now one of the nation’s biggest coronavirus hot spots — was closed after two workers died and 783 others tested positive for the virus.

“The food supply chain is breaking.” Plant shutdowns threaten widespread meat shortages, while farmers look to cull millions of animals they can’t get to market

The coronavirus pandemic is pushing the food supply chain to its limits.

Plant shutdowns are leaving Americans dangerously close to seeing meat shortages at grocery stores. Meanwhile, farmers are facing the likely culling of millions of animals and mass burial graves could soon be dug across the heartland.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” said John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat company.

Outbreaks are forcing the closure of some of the country’s biggest slaughterhouses, where tens of thousands of animals are processed daily. As the plants shutter, producers are left with nowhere to sell their livestock. It’s forcing farmers to make gut-wrenching decisions to dispose of their animals. The situation is so severe that the U.S. government is setting up a center partly to assist on “depopulation and disposal methods.”

h/t Builder