Tyson Foods, which is one of the biggest meat processing companies in the US, recently issued a grim statement in the New York Times regarding food supplies amidst the growing coronavirus pandemic.
Several major meat processing facilities had to recently shut down production due to coronavirus infections among employees. John Tyson, who is a board chairman of Tyson Foods, is warning that the temporary closure of these plants will have significant impacts, with up to a million pounds of meat lacking from the supply chain as a result.
To further complicate the situation, farmers are now faced with an abundance of livestock that has nowhere to go, causing a bottleneck in the production chain despite the growing consumer demand for meat.
As consumers are panic buying and stock piling on groceries such as meat and produce, the depleted supplies at grocery stores are causing food prices such as beef to increase. However, that price increase is not reflected on the production end, as cattle producers have been getting significantly less for their livestock. This market disequilibrium is predominantly due to the congestion caused by processing facility closures.
Although several of Tyson Meat’s processing facilities have been the subject of closures, the company said it has been implementing additional safety measures to keep its front-line workers safe, such as body temperature testing, mandatory face coverings, and increasing sanitation efforts.
JBS USA is another meat processing company to join the list of facility closures due to coronavirus infections among employees. The company’s beef production facility in Green Bay Wisconsin had to temporarily shut its doors as over 200 of its workers acquired the virus. Prior to the closure, the company was being criticized for its lack of negligence in ensuring that employees have access to adequate protective gear.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been at the receiving end of criticism regarding mounting glitches in the food supply chain. Due to congestion in the processing portion of food despite shortages at grocery stores, it took almost a month for the USDA to issue a response to the crisis.
Food banks across the country have been struggling to feed the ever increasing population of poverty-stricken citizens, all while farmers have been letting fresh produce rot in fields because processing facilities are being shut down amid worker coronavirus infection rates. Then finally, the USDA did end up buying some of the oversupply of produce to meet the demand of food banks, but has yet to respond to the bottleneck in meat production.
Information for this briefing was found via New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, USDA, and Globe Newswire. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.