U.S. ‘Perilously Close’ to Meat Shortage After Major Plant Closes Over Coronavirus

TIME:

The world’s biggest pork producer is shuttering a major U.S. plant indefinitely after a coronavirus outbreak among employees, with the company warning that closures across the country are taking American meat supplies “perilously close to the edge” of shortfalls.

Smithfield Foods will idle its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pork-processing facility, which accounts for 4% to 5% of U.S. production, the company said in a statement Sunday. The move comes after state officials reported more than 200 cases of Covid-19 for plant employees, adding to a spike in infections that’s seen hundreds of American meat workers get sick. Plants have been forced to shutter or reduce output.

“The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply,” Smithfield’s Chief Executive Officer Ken Sullivan said in the statement. “It is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running.”

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