Meat shortage fears deepen as Tyson Foods closes its largest pork plant

Tyson Foods said it is closing its Waterloo, Iowa plant, where it has 2,800 employees and processes 19,500 hogs a day. It is Tyson’s largest pork plant and represents about 4 percent of the nation’s pork processing capacity.

“Despite our continued efforts to keep our people safe while fulfilling our critical role of feeding American families, the combination of worker absenteeism, covid-19 cases and community concerns has resulted in our decision to stop production,” said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats.

The closure follows other major shutdowns at plants run by Smithfield Foods, JBS USA and other companies that prop up the country’s meat supply. U.S. production of beef and pork largely relies on a few massive facilities. Stouffer said hundreds of independent farmers are tied to the Waterloo plant, along with truckers, distributors and grocers…

Even for meat that does get processed, restaurants are slashing orders for expensive cuts that do not necessarily sell at supermarkets. Industry experts worry if grocers run low, shoppers will begin hoarding meat, much as they have with toilet paper, cleaning supplies and pantry staples since the pandemic started.