Factbox: Coronavirus spread closes North American meat plants

FILE PHOTO: A shopper picks over the few items remaining in the meat section, as people stock up on supplies amid coronavirus fears, at an Austin, Texas
FILE PHOTO: A shopper picks over the few items remaining in the meat section, as people stock up on supplies amid coronavirus fears, at an Austin, Texas, grocery store on March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Brad Brooks/File Photo

April 13, 2020

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Major meat companies in the United States and Canada have closed plants temporarily due to cases of the new coronavirus and concerns about its spread.

Here are some facilities that have shut or reduced production:

* JBS USA [JBS.UL] shut a beef plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, until April 16, after previously cutting production.

* JBS reduced production a beef plant in Greeley, Colorado, due to high absences among workers, according to the local United Food and Commercial Workers union. The company said high absenteeism led slaughter rates to outpace the process of cutting carcasses into pieces.

* National Beef Packing Co [NBEEF.UL] suspended cattle slaughtering at a beef plant in Tama, Iowa, for a cleaning and planned to resume on April 13.

* Aurora Packing Company closed a beef plant in Aurora, Illinois, said Brad Lyle, chief financial officer for U.S. commodity firm Kerns and Associates. A security officer at the plant said it was closed due to the pandemic. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

* Harmony Beef in Alberta, Canada, shut its cattle slaughter operations on March 27 for two days, after a worker tested positive for the new coronavirus, prompting some federal inspectors to stay away from the site.

* Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] closed a plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, that produces meat for U.S. grocery stores.

* Tyson Foods Inc <TSN.N> shut a hog slaughterhouse in Columbus Junction, Iowa, the week of April 6 after more than 24 cases of COVID-19 involving employees at the facility.

* Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, on Sunday said it is shutting a pork plant indefinitely and warned that plant shutdowns are pushing the United States “perilously close to the edge” in meat supplies for grocers.

* An Olymel pork plant in Yamachiche, Quebec, shut on March 29 for two weeks, after nine workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

* Maple Leaf Foods <MFI.TO> suspended operations on April 8 at its Brampton, Ontario poultry plant, following three COVID cases among workers at that facility.

* Sanderson Farms Inc <SAFM.O> reduced chicken production to 1 million birds a week from 1.3 million at a plant in Moultrie, Georgia.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek and Rod Nickel; editing by Edward Tobin)

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