There are more than two-dozen COVID-19 outbreaks at North Carolina meat processing plants. That includes confirmed cases at the Tyson Foods plant in Wilkes County. With the pandemic straining the industry, it will likely mean higher meat and poultry prices for consumers.
The Tyson Foods plant in Wilkes County has had to halt production twice in the past week for more deep cleaning and because of worker absences related to COVID-19 quarantines and other factors. And they're not alone. Several processing plants in the state and across the country are also struggling to keep operations going as more cases pop up.
Jeff Camm is a professor and the associate dean of business analytics at Wake Forest University.
Camm says it's hard to tell what the economic impact of COVID-19 will be on the industry because it's a fluid situation.
“Certainly workers being out, a decrease in capacity, even having to go in and reconfigure things so that people can be further apart so they can be safer when they process, all of that is going to have an impact on capacity of processing plants,” says Camm.
Camm says panic buying can also impact supply and drive up pricing for meat and poultry.
Some grocery store chains, including Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and Publix have already begun to limit the number of these products a customer can buy.
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