US meat industry moves to maintain supply as consumer demand grows during coronavirus

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According to IRI and 210 Analytics data, meat and poultry retail sales in the US increased 7.3% for the week ending 8 March, 2020 while deli meat sales grew 4.8% due to a shift from foodservice production.

“In these uncertain times, the data shows consumers are turning to meat and poultry to provide their families with the nourishment and comfort they need,”​ said Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “Our members are committed to meeting this need.”

“As the Coronavirus began to spread overseas, our members acted to protect their employees and develop contingency plans to ensure plants could still provide food for families around the world,”​ said Potts. “With increased demand in retail, our members acted quickly to adapt, taking steps to keep operations running at normal or increased capacity.”

Potts also praised business that have recognised the pressure on employees, especially hourly employees with children out of school and day care, and have acted to enhance benefits, including paid sick leave and improving access to health care to treat or detect the virus and waiving co-pays and deductibles.

She said companies are educating employees on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. They also recognize the critical value of the personal effort and sacrifice of employees up and down the food supply chain.

“Perhaps most important is the generosity of member companies in donating meat or funds to foodbanks and other charities to support those in need in their communities,”​ said Potts.

Political support

The Meat Institute is working with livestock groups, food and beverage industry trade associations, manufacturing organizations, USDA, congress and the White House to ensure meat and poultry producers can operate as critical infrastructure.

“Member plants must be allowed to keep running to provide critical protein to the food supply chain,”​ said Potts. “The Meat Institute is encouraging members to work with state and local health authorities to enhance their understanding of meat production, especially the extensive and frequent cleaning and sanitation of facilities.”

Maintaining standards

The Meat Institute has also sought and gained assurances that inspection service will continue and that actions are being taken to address staff shortages caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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