While the United States hasn't dealt with many product shortages since the coronavirus outbreak began, one food company recently warned that the situation could get quite a bit more dire in the coming weeks. CNN reports Tyson Foods board chairman John Tyson recently took out a full-page ad in several national newspapers warning that a meat shortage could be on the horizon.
Tyson warned the "food supply chain is breaking" and that millions of pounds of meat could disappear from that chain in the near future. All of this, the chairman claimed, is because Tyson and other food production companies are having to shut down their factories as the outbreak continues to ravage the U.S.
He also discussed the problems farmers are facing as meatpacking plants close. He said they are running out of places to sell their livestock and instead are having to euthanize them and cut back on production.
"Millions of animals — chickens, pigs, and cattle — will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities," he stated.
The depopulation will adversely affect future food production. He added that grocery stores are going to see shortages until the plants, which have closed down to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, are able to reopen.Tyson Foods employs about 100,000 workers around the country. They recently shuttered locations in Iowa and Indiana to test those plants' employees for coronavirus. The closure in Iowa came after weeks of employees calling in sick and refusing to report for their shifts out of concern about the virus. Local health officials claim at least half of the county's total cases stemmed from that Tyson plant.
CNN said it recently spoke to three employees of Tyson that worked at the facility. Those employees didn't feel the company was doing enough to protect workers and said social distancing at their jobs was virtually impossible.
Tyson Foods' plant in Iowa is among the biggest processing center in the country. The Smithfield Foods plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and the JBS pork processing facility in Worthington, Minnesota have also had to close. Together, those three facilities make up about 15 percent of the country's pork production.
Tyson Foods didn't say in their advertisement how long they believe the food supply is going to be disrupted or just how bad the shortages could become. Both of those factors will likely be decided when it becomes more clear when the company's biggest plants are allowed to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.