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Supply: Tyson Foods to indefinitely stop production at largest pork plant


(Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N) plans to indefinitely suspend operations at its largest pork plant in the United States to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the company said on Wednesday, in the latest disruption to the country’s food supply chain.

Earlier this month, Tyson shut a hog slaughterhouse along with two other major U.S. meat companies that closed their pork and beef facilities. Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, also shut here a U.S. plant indefinitely following cases of COVID-19 among employees.

The closed Smithfield plant is one of the nation’s largest pork processing facilities, representing 4% to 5% of U.S. pork production, according to the company.

Supply Chain: Smithfield shutting U.S. pork plant indefinitely. Issues warning

Reduced meat output from the shutdowns threatens to tighten supplies of certain products at a time when demand is rising at grocery stores as the United States battles COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Tyson Foods said its largest pork plant at Waterloo, Iowa, plant was already working at reduced capacity, adding that the 2,800 workers at the plant, to be compensated during the closure, would be invited to come in later this week for coronavirus testing.

“The combination of worker absenteeism, COVID-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production,” Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats said.

Stouffer also said the closure means loss of a market outlet for farmers and further contributes to the disruption of the nation’s pork supply as the plant is a part of larger supply chain.

The company also said some of its meat and poultry plants were running at reduced levels of production.

Lockdowns that aim to stop the spread of the coronavirus have also prevented farmers across the globe from delivering food products to consumers. Millions of laborers also cannot get to the fields for harvesting and planting, and there are too few truckers to keep goods moving.

Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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