Head of Tyson food says the 'supply chain is breaking,' warns of coming meat shortages amid pandemic

The chairman of the massive food processing company says the shuttering of his plants will cause millions of pounds of meat to disappear from grocery shelves

Last Updated:
April 27, 2020 - 10:59pm

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The chairman of Tyson Foods – one of America’s largest meat processors – has issued a stark warning about the coronavirus impacting the country's food supply chain, after industry and government leaders early in the pandemic said that situation would not occur. 

That position has changed because plants have now been closed long enough that the supply chain may falter.

On Sunday, the Tyson took out a full-page ad in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette to say that “millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain,” as pork, beef and chicken plants are being forced to shutter across the country.

“The food supply chain is breaking,” company Chairman John Tyson wrote in the ad, which can also be viewed as a blog post here.

“There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed,” he continued.

The letter serves as a plea to the government to “unite in a comprehensive, thoughtful and productive way to allow our team members to work in safety without fear, panic or worry.”

“We have a responsibility to feed our country,” writes Tyson.

At least two U.S. companies – Tyson and Smithfield Farms – have closed meat processing facilities in recent weeks in connection with employees infected by the virus.

Tyson foods employs about 100,000 workers across the United States. It closed several plants last week so that workers could be tested for the virus.

In addition to grocery store shortages, of the sort consumers initially panicked about at the start of the pandemic, Tyson explains that “farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation.”