People wait in their cars Thursday, April 9, 2020, at Traders Village for the San Antonio Food Bank to begin food distribution. The need for emergency food aid has exploded in recent weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Labor Department said Thursday 6.6 million people applied for first-time unemployment benefits. (William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

New York (CNN Business)Across the country, meat processors are temporarily shutting down as workers are getting infected with Covid-19. But that doesn’t mean America is about to run out of meat.

The closures are devastating to meat producers. Without processing facilities, livestock farmers are having a hard time selling their meat.

But US consumers don’t have to worry about shortages in supermarkets, experts say. At least not yet.

“I don’t think the shutdowns so far have been enough to be noticeable” to consumers, said Steve Meyer, an economist with commodity firm Kerns and Associates. “We have a lot of pork, we have a lot of chicken, we have a lot of beef in cold storage,” he said. “We can draw on that should we have some shortages.”

Some of the plants that have shut down are working to divert supply to other locations. Tyson (TSN), one of the world’s largest meat processors, suspended operations at its Columbus Junction, Iowa, pork plant last week. But it is sending livestock that was headed to Columbus Junction to other pork plants in the region to minimize impact on production. If other plants follow the same tactic, they could help mitigate the losses in production as well, Meyer noted.

Plus, livestock that is not diverted will still need to processed when plants open up, Meyer said.

Christine McCracken, senior analyst of animal protein for Rabobank, said that plant closures or reductions in operations due to labor shortages or social distancing efforts may mean fewer options. But they probably won’t mean less meat altogether.

“There likely will be a drop in the number of types of products that are on the shelves,” she said. “It may be that a deboned product isn’t available because they don’t have the labor to do that. So boneless chicken breasts might not be an option in the coming weeks.”

The situation is fluid, and things could take a turn for the worse. Consumers may feel the impact if plants stay closed for a long time, or if many more close all at once.

And in the long term, meat prices could go up.

If livestock farmers go out of business because of the pressures they face today, the US meat supply will eventually contract. That will mean more expensive meat for consumers, McCracken said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Boeing sees zero orders again in April, MAX cancellations mount

(Reuters) – Boeing Co (BA.N) recorded zero orders for the second time this year in April and customers canceled another 108 orders for its grounded 737 MAX plane compounding its worst start to a year since 1962. The company said…

Apple Reportedly Paid Samsung Display $950 Million Over OLED Panels

Display Supply Chain Consultants reported this week that Apple appears to have paid $950 million to Samsung, as a penalty, for “purchasing fewer OLED smartphone panels than required.” Previously, the Elec had reported that Samsung received such a payment, although allegedly the…

Brent crude oil price down below $26 per barrel

MOSCOW, March 25. /TASS/. The price of futures contracts of Brent crude oil for May 2020 delivery is down by 4.5% on London’s ICE as of 1:54 pm Moscow time at $25.9 per barrel. The price of futures contracts of…

Los Angeles delays movie theater reopenings after rise in coronavirus cases

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday announced he was taking a “hard pause” on when movie theaters in the city can reopen, citing an increase in coronavirus cases. Los Angeles County is the biggest movie…