Major US meat companies including Tyson Foods have closed three facilities that produce pork and beef marking the latest disruption to the country’s food supply chain due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Reuters, reduced meat output from the shutdowns threatens to tighten supplies of certain products at a time when demand is rising at grocery stores.
Tyson Foods has suspended operations at an Iowa pork plant due to more than 24 cases of Covid-19 involving team members at the facility.
The announcement was made yesterday in an issued statement by Tyson Foods’ CEO Noel White and the decision was said to be ‘out of an abundance of caution’.
In order to minimise the impact on overall production, Tyson is diverting the livestock supply originally scheduled for delivery to Columbus Junction, Iowa, to some of its other pork plants in the region.
According to a Reuters report citing Steve Meyer, economist for Kerns and Associates, the Iowa facility slaughters roughly 10,100 hogs a day or about 2% of the country’s total slaughter capacity.
“Our meat and poultry plants are experiencing varying levels of production impact, due to the planned implementation of additional worker safety precautions and worker absenteeism,” added White.
“We’re working hard to protect our team members during this ever-changing situation, while also ensuring we continue fulfilling our critical role of helping feed people across the country.”
In a statement cited by Reuters, National Beef Packing – majoritively owned by Marfrig Global Foods – said it suspended cattle slaughtering this week at a plant in Tama, Iowa, for a major cleaning process that was previously scheduled for later this month.
The closures follows the announcement by JBS USA last week to temporarily reduce beef production for two weeks at a beef plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania after several senior management team members displayed flu-like symptoms.
The US subsidiary’s decision marked the first US meat plant to cut operations due to worries over the coronavirus pandemic.
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