“The Food Supply Chain is Breaking” – Tyson Foods

One of the United States’ largest meat producers sounded the alarm yesterday with a warning that “millions of pounds of meat” will disappear from the supply chain as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take its toll on processing plants and forces them to close. 

The food supply chain is breaking,” wrote board chairman John Tyson in a full-page advertisement published Sunday in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The chairman went on to say:

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain… as a result, there will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed.”

This warning comes seventeen days after Tyson Foods CFO said, “don’t panic” when it came to a potential meat shortage. That narrative sure has changed quickly. 

Yesterday, the U.S. Labor Department issued new guidelines for meatpacking and meat-processing plants that have seen a rash of coronavirus outbreaks, saying employees should be spaced at least 6 feet (1.8 m) apart and screened before they start working.

More than 5,000 U.S. meat- and food-processing workers have been infected with or exposed to the new coronavirus, and 13 have died, the country’s largest meatpacking union said on Thursday.

Numerous meat suppliers remain closed with no date as of yet when processing plants will reopen.