The coronavirus pandemic has been especially crushing for the meat supply chain. The industry could face losses of more than $20 billion in 2020.
The pandemic has caused two major disruptions to the meat supply chain. The first was shifting consumer behaviors including restaurant and school closures that paralyzed an entire distribution channel. The second impacted the industry in an unimaginable way; more than 20,000 meat processing plant workers have gotten sick, 74 have died and dozens of plants have been forced to shut down.
“I’m not sure anybody really understood sort of how to be prepared. These meatpacking plants, by their very nature, are extremely difficult to manage a human disease like this,” said Derrell Peel, a livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.