COVID-19: Experts say not to panic despite question marks surrounding meat supply

COVID-19: Experts say not to panic despite question marks surrounding meat supply
WatchThe meat industry is scrambling with some of North America’s biggest producers forced to close or reduce production due to COVID-19. But some say it might not be time for a panic trip to the grocery store just yet.

When COVID-19 first hit Canada, meat was flying off store shelves. People were stocking up in fear of future shortages.

Now some of North America’s biggest meat producers have been forced to either close or reduce production as the virus surges through their facilities. But experts say there’s no need for panic buy.

“The pinch point is processing. And if we see closures if some select plants either permanent or temporary, we should be able to weather that storm with reallocation” said Michael Von Massow, an associate professor of Food Agriculture and Resource Economics at the University of Guelph.

The Cargill Plant in High River, Alta. produces roughly one-third of Canada’s beef supplies. At least 38 employees there have now tested positive for COVID-19, causing some reductions in shifts. But stores may still be able to get product if the American’s co-operate.

“Because of the integrated North American system, we could ship some live cattle across the border, perhaps for slaughter and we could still get beef back from the U.S.” Von Massow said.

But several American meat processing plants have now closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Some butcher shops say they aren’t worried, they source their meat right here on Vancouver Island.

“Very, very crazy busy. but the nice thing about dealing with all the farmers directly, I haven’t had a problem getting any of our product. Our chicken comes from Cowichan Bay, the pigs and some of our beef comes out of Comox, our lambs come out of Metchosin, so the farmers have been taking care of me really well.” Said the owner of McLennan’s Island Meat & Seafood Lloyd McLennan.


Ben NesbitBen Nesbit

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