The Friday Report: May 8th, 2020

Quick wrap up of a few hot topic newsworthy stories in the supply chain logistics industry

COVID-19 Meat Processing Woes Lead to Increased Demand for Meatless Meat

With the recent COVID-19 outbreak impacting meat processing plants across the nation, American consumers seem to be developing a taste for plant-based food products.  Beyond the meat shortages, consumers have also voiced concerns about animal welfare as well as questions about the origins of COVID-19 in a Chinese live animal market.  Consumers also have concerns about the factory farms which supply nearly all U.S. meat

Did you know that a recent Nielsen report stated that the demand for plant-based protein products increased 278% since this time last year?

Headliners Impossible Foods announced that it has ramped up production for its retail expansion this week to get 1700 Kroger-owned grocery stores nationwide.  This is a significant jump up the evolutionary ladder since the launch of the product.  Impossible Foods expects to expand to 50-200 stores then work on additional outlets and retail channels.  Burgers can be ordered online through which links to the Instacart delivery service or consumers may elect to use curbside pickup.

U.K. Waiters, Students and Convicts Recruited to Harvest Produce

Travel restrictions have hit countries hard this year, eliminating the use of migrant workers who typically harvest produce for growers.  Rather than let crops wither and rot in fields, putting the food supply chain at risk, European farmers are taking a slightly different approach. 

Fruit and vegetable picking is primarily done by hand unlike wheat and corn which rely on mechanized harvesting.  This requires long shifts of manual labor outside, work that many people find undesirable.  Local workers are being recruited by farmers and governments are chartering planes and recruiting students, waiters and even prisoners to fill the labor gap.  Recruiting across country borders is becoming more common as governments search for larger pools of experienced workers.

Canada has experienced a flood of interest after they promoted their recruiting efforts to the unemployed.  The jobs are demanding, something many workers find challenging.  For farms in many countries, many furloughed workers are often far away from rural regions, making it problematic to keep pickers once the businesses reopen.

10,000 COVID-19 Cases Now Linked to Meat Processing Plants

More than 170 plants across 29 states have recorded at least one or more cases of coronavirus positive workers.  At this point, 45 workers in meatpacking plants have died from COVID-19.

Over 40 livestock and processing plants have been temporarily closed for periods varying from a day to several weeks since the pandemic started.  Meat shortages have been noted in various parts of the U.S., resulting in an executive order requiring meat processing plants to remain open.  The Presidential executive order has been unable to impact plant closures at this point.

The USDA warned of “further action” against plants that remain shuttered and the Defense Production Act was mentioned.  Weekly production of meat is down 36% from the same time last year.

Despite the executive order, coronavirus infections continue to escalate, impacting family members of meat packing employees and surrounding communities.

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