Tyson Warns 'The Food Supply Chain Is Breaking’ As the Company Is Forced to Close Plants Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

Kristin Salaky
Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images
Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images

From Good Housekeeping

Tyson Foods issued a letter warning of the implications that the COVID-19 outbreak could have on food processing plants and saying that the "food supply chain is breaking."

In the letter, which was published as a full-page ad this weekend in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, according to CNN, John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, wrote that with plants being forced to close amid the coronavirus outbreak, the food supply chain is being left vulnerable.

"As pork, beef, and chicken plants are being forced to close, even for short periods of time, millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain. As a result, 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 wrote.

The company recently closed its plants in Waterloo, IA, and Logansport, IN.

Tyson also issued a grim warning about food waste issues as farmers are unable to sell their livestock because of plant closures.

"Farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock to be processed, when they could have fed the nation," he wrote. "Millions of animals – chickens, pigs and cattle – will be depopulated because of the closure of our processing facilities. The food supply chain is breaking."

In the letter, Tyson called supplying the nation with food "as essential as healthcare," writing that companies like Tyson, as well as the government, need to learn to balance keeping employees safe while also working to keep food on shelves.

"What gave us faith in the past and gives me faith today is knowing that together, we will find the right path to take care of our team members and our communities, while providing safe and healthy food for you, our consumers," he wrote.

You can read the entirety of his letter here.

Tyson's letter echos many of the points made by Smithfield Foods CEO Kenneth Sullivan when the company closed its Sioux Falls, SD, pork-processing facility earlier this month.

"The closure of this facility, combined with a growing list of other protein plants that have shuttered across our industry, is pushing our country perilously close to the edge in terms of our meat supply," he said at the time.

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