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Supermarkets are struggling to meet growing consumer demand for meat as the coronavirus impacts workers at processing plants across the United States, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Why it matters: Industry leaders say COVID-19 is forcing thousands of plant workers to remain at home, meaning meat suppliers must reduce the volume and variety of cuts they sell to stores.
- A Smithfield pork processing plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is among the latest to close, after at least 644 cases of the virus have been traced back to the facility.
- It accounts for 4–5% of all pork production in the U.S. and employs approximately 3,700 workers.
The big picture: Meat sales have jumped by 30% over the past month at B&R Stores, a Midwestern grocery chain, as suppliers are filling only about 75% of meat orders, company president Mark Griffin told the WSJ.
- Smithfield announced on Thursday it will temporarily close another two plants — one in Wisconsin and another in Missouri — because of the virus, the Star Tribune reports.
What they're saying: "For Americans who ... may be worried about access to good food because of this, I want to assure you: The American food supply is strong, resilient and safe," Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Wednesday in a White House press conference.
- Perdue also announced this week that the Trump administration plans to buy milk and meat from farmers to help them weather the impact of the outbreak, per Reuters.