The U.S. is edging closer to possible meat shortages with another major plant taken off line.
About a quarter of American pork production and 10% of beef output has now been shuttered, according to the United Food & Commercial Workers, which estimates that 13 U.S. plants are down.
Meanwhile, 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Meat prices are surging on the disruptions. U.S. wholesale beef hit the highest on record. Pork bellies, the cut turned into bacon, soared 137% in the five days through Wednesday.
“What people don’t realize is in the coming months, that’s going to be one the biggest issues out there is getting the meats and provisions, for not only restaurants, I hate to say it, but grocery stores as well,” said Peter Cancro, chief executive officer of Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems Inc.
In Minnesota, farmers may have to kill 200,000 pigs in the next few weeks, according to an industry association.
The U.S. government on Wednesday pushed out its monthly figures on frozen food inventories, which stood in sharp relief against the backdrop of closures. One figure in particular might give even the naysayers pause.
Combined pork, beef and poultry supplies in cold-storage facilities now stand equal to roughly two weeks of total American meat production. With most plant shutdowns lasting about 14 days for safety reasons, that raises the potential for deficits.
“Meat shortages will be occurring two weeks from now in the retail outlets,” Dennis Smith, a senior account executive at Archer Financial Services, said this week, citing industry sources. “There is simply no spot pork available. The big box stores will get their needs met, many others will not.” – READ MORE
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