Coronavirus Hits Meat Plants as Some Workers Get Sick, Others Stay Home

The coronavirus pandemic is hitting U.S. meat operations, slowing and temporarily halting production at some plants as sickness and fear keep workers home.

Meat plant employees, working by the hundreds in plants, with many standing side by side on processing lines, play a critical role in replenishing supermarkets. But workers' concerns that they could contract the coronavirus have prompted walkouts and complaints, while a growing number of positive cases prompts some meat companies to scale back operations.


Tyson Foods Suspends Operations at Columbus Junction Pork Plant

Tyson Foods Inc. said Monday it was suspending operations at its pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa, "out of an abundance of caution," as a result of "more than two dozen cases of Covid-19 involving team members at the facility."

Tyson also said "In an effort to minimize the impact on our overall production, we're diverting the livestock supply originally scheduled for delivery to Columbus Junction to some of our other pork plants in the region."




For Grocers, Eggs Are Getting More Expensive Amid Coronavirus

Wholesale egg prices have more than tripled as consumers' coronavirus-driven buying clears supermarket shelves, piling up costs for grocers as they struggle to keep the staple in stock and affordable.

Egg prices across the U.S. averaged $3.01 a dozen at the end of last week, compared with 94 cents at the beginning of March, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.


Big Restaurant, Hotel Chains Won Exemption to Get Small-Business Loans

Shake Shack Inc. hardly seems like a small enterprise, with 7,600 employees, about $500 million in annual revenue and net income last year of $24 million. Even so, it plans to apply for a new government-guaranteed small-business loan.

The New York-based fast-food chain says it needs the help to get through the new coronavirus pandemic. Many of its roughly 140 company-owned U.S. stores are in high-traffic urban areas now largely shut down by the virus. Sales are down 70% on average, the company said, and it has furloughed or laid off 20% of its corporate staff.




Hog Futures Turn Higher After Streak of Limit Down Closes -- Market Talk

15:32 ET - After closing limit down for three consecutive days last week, hog futures on the CME turned a corner Monday -- rising 2.7% to 49.65 cents per pound. This is after the hog contract fell 25% last week. Even so, today's turnaround doesn't mean that hog futures will end the week tracking positive. "The export pace is very strong but the US demand situation is the biggest concern," says RJO Futures. Meanwhile, cattle futures fell 0.7% to 80.3 cents per pound. (; @kirkmaltais)



Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Apr 6 
Source: USDA, based on Wall Street Journal calculations 
All figures are on a per-head basis. 
Date     Standard Margin       Estimated margin 
         Operating Index         at vertically - 
                             integrated operations 
Apr  6       +$ 31.05            -$  9.56 
Apr  3       +$ 22.19            -$ 11.32 
Apr  2       +$ 26.85            -$  6.59 
* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production. 
A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of 
production of the animals. 
This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite 
values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices. 
          For Today             Choice  101.4 
      (Percent of Year-Ago)     Select   97.6 
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports 

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Monday fell 39 cents per hundred pounds, to $230.05, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 81 cents per hundred pounds, to $215.03. The total load count was 162. Wholesale pork prices fell 82 cents, to $57.29 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 06, 2020 17:33 ET (21:33 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.