Where’s The Beef? Meat Processors Hammered By Coronavirus

It appears that the forewarning offered previously by the United Nations in regards to food security is coming true. As of late, several of North America’s largest meat processors have been forced to either reduce or halt operations altogether as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Meat processors across Canada and the US are being forced to shutter operations as dozens of employees contract COVID-19. The latest, a Cargill plant in High River, Alberta, has been forced to reduce operations as a result of dozens of employees contracting the virus. The processing plant currently provides approximately one third of Canada’s total beef processing capacity.

Cargill isn’t the only beef processor impacted either. Yesterday, JBS announced that its Colorado facility located in Greeley would be closing temporarily for ten days due to 43 employees contracting COVID-19. The plant was taking two days to wind down operations before insisting employees shelter in place at home. Additionally, JBS also owns one of the four meat processing plants closed down in Pennsylvania as a result of the spread of the virus.

Live cattle futures fall as beef processors are unable to process product due to facility shutdowns.

Other firms with shutdowns include Smithfield Foods, who had to shutter one of the largest pork processing plants in the US this week after the plant accounted for more than half of the reported coronavirus cases in South Dakota. The plant accounts for anywhere from 4% to 5% of the US’ pork processing capacity and employs 3,700 people.

More locally, an Olymel pork plant located in Quebec had to shutter operations at the end of March following a rash of infections, where over more than 50 employees fell ill. And in Brampton, a poultry processing plant operated by Maple Leaf foods last week was also forced to temporarily halt production.

What these closures point to is the almost inevitable lack of meat across North America. Coupled with rising wheat and rice prices as demand increases, and many may be facing food security issues across the continent.

Information for this briefing was found via the provided links including CTV News. 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.

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