Covid 19 And Our Meat

April 2, 2021
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How COVID-19 impacts what you and your family are able to buy, cook & eat.


  • The U.S. is the world’s largest food exporter.
  • The U.S. is the world’s largest beef producer & consumer in the world.
  • The U.S. is the world’s largest poultry producer. It’s also a major egg producer & the second largest poultry exporter.
  • Meat byproducts (ex: gelatin, wool, lanolin) also contribute to many commonly used household products.

What’s the Problem?

The U.S. food supply chain is impacted by COVID-19 in these two ways:

  • Distribution: Restaurants, cafeterias, closed, immediately halting demand.
  • Human Power: When plants shut down due to illness/sick leave, fewer workers can process food.

Why It Matters: Livestock farmers have too much product & nowhere to send it.


  • The U.S. gov’t considers livestock, agriculture workers “critical.”
  • Large processing plants employ a lot of people working in close quarters.
  • Outbreaks have halted production. U.S. meat industry workers have reportedly died from COVID-19.
  • This has led to the closure of major U.S. meat processing plants, potentially impacting meat supply nationwide (and beyond).

“As pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain… Farmers across the country will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation… The food supply chain is breaking.”

Tyson Foods chairman John Tyson in a full-page ad published in various newspapers over the weekend.

“They say, ‘How dare you throw away food when so many people are hungry?.’ They don’t know how farming works. This makes me sick, too.”

A U.S. farmer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, about disposing of their product. Some farmers have been forced to euthanize livestock because they have nowhere to keep or sell the animals.

What This Means For You

Even if individual families buy more at the grocery store, we can’t make up for the large, bulk purchasing power of restaurants, corporate cafeterias, event catering and beyond.

Some economists believe the disruption in the supply chain (lower supply due to closed processing plants) will lead to higher prices for all in the weeks and months ahead.

Currently, meat produced for food-service (like restaurants) cannot be repackaged and sold in grocery stores, or donated easily. The USDA has set up an emergency network to try to coordinate oversupply, funneling it to places of need.

COVID-19: Is It Safe? READ

COVID-19: FDA Approves First At-Home Test: READ

COVID-19: What we know about the sickest patients READ

by Jenna Lee,