Meat Shortage Coming Nationwide, Tyson Foods Says

April 28, 2020, 6:00 AM HST (Updated April 28, 2020, 12:17 AM)
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Butcher display. PC: Pixabay

Soon, beef may no longer be “what’s for dinner,” as the popular ad campaign once coined, and neither will pork or chicken — at least not as frequently as they were before COVID-19 swept across the globe leaving havoc in its wake.

Tyson Foods Board Chairman, John Tyson, took out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Sunday warning the country that a meat shortage is coming to grocery stores nationwide, as “the food supply chain is breaking” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement was made on the heels of Tyson closing temporarily a pork processing plant in Waterloo, Iowa last week after more than 180 cases of COVID-19 were connected to the plant and hundreds of employees decided on their own to stay home from work for fear of catching the virus.

The plant’s closure is a major hit to US pork production, as it alone accounted for more than 4% of the country’s pork processing capacity.

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Tyson is the largest meat producer in the United States, and it’s far from the only company impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the nation’s largest slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants have been forced to close due to the outbreak of the virus, which will impact protein processing of beef, pork and chicken — a cornerstone business in America’s heartland.

“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” the Tyson company’s chairman wrote Sunday.

The issue extends to the farms on which livestock are raised, as the lack of processing capability will mean a downturn in livestock purchasing nationwide.

“Millions of pounds of meat will disappear,” Tyson continued. “In addition to meat shortages, this is a serious food waste issue. Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation. Millions of animals — chickens, pigs and cattle — will be depopulated.”

Max Dible
Max Dible is the News Director for both Big Island Now and Kauai Now. He also serves as News Director for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter, and radio talk show personality covering college athletics in Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing, and his work as a sports columnist.

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