Meat is one of the most extensive parts of the food and restaurant industry; in fact, U.S. meat production totaled 52 billion pounds in 2017, with poultry production (by itself) totaling 48 billion pounds in 2017. COVID-19’s Omicron variant, although seemingly unrelated as primarily air-borne virus, has begun to affect the meat industry significantly by taking down workers. With workers infected and out of work, meat plants have had to slow production. In the meat industry, each step is crucial, from farming to inspection to processing, because at the end of the line is someone’s dinner plate – and ultimate health. The meat supply seems to be hitting beef and a few others the hardest, with companies like Cargill Inc, a top U.S. beef producer, seeing decreased slaughtering capacity in just the last week. The issue is reminiscent of the beginning of the COVID era, March of 2020, when many meatpackers caught COVID, except this time it’s Omicron. When comparing meat production to just a year ago (when COVID was still raging), data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated beef processors slaughtered 6% fewer cows and 5% fewer pigs.
Measures to help improve the situation and reduce COVID cases among employees, like reinstating monitors who ensure plant workers stay safely distanced, are being taken. Booster shots were not encouraged before but may hopefully be encouraged going forward. Factories will also continue to limit transmission by enforcing the wearing of masks. With Omicron touching near every industry’s ability to produce goods and services, do you think we’ll ever return to normal, or will supply-chain issues prevent us from doing so?
I am not a financial advisor and my comments should never be taken as financial advice. Investments come with risk, so always do your research and analysis beforehand.