BATON ROUGE, La. (BRProud) — Louisiana consumers could soon see a limited variety of meat products on grocery shelves due to food supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Depleted workforces across the U.S. will likely lead to spot shortages of beef, pork and poultry products, according to Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain.
“If we do not get the beef plants and the poultry plants back online,” said Strain, “then in a week or two, we could start seeing more severe shortages.” As of April 24, roughly 30% of U.S. pork packing capacity and 25% of beef capacity was offline.
Strain stressed that Louisiana is not in jeopardy of running out of protein sources. Instead, consumers should be prepared to find fewer meat cuts at the supermarket.
“If you want a boneless ham, you may not be able to get it. You may have to get a bone-in ham.”Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain D.V.M.
Beyond desired cuts, Strain also said customers face a potential lack of access to fresh meat. Citing a rapid supply chain from the processing facility to the consumer, Strain said it “will depend on how many workers we can get back to work in the next ten days.”
In an effort to stave off meat shortages, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday ordering American meat plants to stay open. COVID-19 infected hundreds of workers at meat-processing plants and forced some of the largest to close and others to slow production.
Following Trump’s order, OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor released guidance to employers for reopening their sites.
“I talked directly to our processing facilities here in Louisiana – our main processing facilities,” said Strain. “The majority of them are working at capacity and the others are trying to get workers back in.”