Tyson Foods—one of the world’s largest meat companies—has revealed pork production in the U.S. had dropped a staggering 50 percent due to the coronavirus outbreak. It made the comments during an investor call on Monday.
The company has been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Tyson said three of its six primary meat processing plants in the U.S. had been forced to close. Its three other plants are operating at reduced capacity.
Steve Meyer, an economist for Kerns and Associates, told SF Gate Tyson’s pork production numbers could be even lower. “By my calculations, last Friday, pork production was down 42.9 percent for all U.S. companies,” he said. He continued: “Tyson, by my calculations, was down by 57,780 hogs processed per day from a capacity of 78,500 processed per day. That’s 74 percent short.”
COVID-19 Impacting Meat Production
In addition to Tyson, a number of slaughterhouses and meat processing plants have been forced to close nationwide due to the pandemic.
Cargill Ltd., JBS, National Beef Packing Co., and Smithfield Food Inc. have all reported plant closures. Many plants have also reported confirmed cases of COVID-19, some of which died as a result.
Earlier this month, nearly 900 of Tyson Food’s employees who worked at the Logansport, Indiana processing plant tested positive for the virus. The facility is currently closed. Tyson suspended operations at its largest pork factory in Waterloo, Iowa, earlier this month.
‘Depopulation And Disposal’ Of Animals
COVID-related U.S. plant and slaughterhouse closures have led farmers to consider culling their animals. Last month, Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. revealed it would have to “depopulate” two million chickens due to a lack of workers.
The chickens would be depopulated “using approved, humane methods,” the company said in a statement. The approved methods include suffocation and closing off ventilation to where the chickens are housed, The Guardian reports.