Supply chain backed up by COVID-19 outbreaks - FOX34 Lubbock

Supply chain backed up by COVID-19 outbreaks

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LUBBOCK COUNTY, Texas -

COVID-19 is attacking the Achilles heel of the food supply chain.

Nationwide, outbreaks among meat processing plant employees are slowing or even suspending production.

"We're going to see, what we call, rolling capacity black outs, you know, for a time," economist at Texas Tech, Darren Hudson, said.

This means less choices for the consumer...

"Right now, most anything you want is there, but obviously not everything you're going to want is going to be readily available, you know for the next month or two," Hudson said. "You may not be able to buy pork belly at one point, but you can buy all the pork loins you want and then no ham this week and then next week there's loads of it."

...and the burden increasing on producers.

"We have the supply. There's not a beef shortage. We just have to get these processors, particularly large processors, we got to get them back to full production," manager of Lubbock Feeders Kyle Williams said.

Even if there was a major shortage, Williams is confident the feeding lot would be able to feed every person in the county, for up to a year, if it was needed.

Each week, the feeding lot turns out about 1,000 heads of cattle.

But in the last 6 weeks, it only sold 1/3 of that.

JBS meat packing plant near Amarillo, where the federal government is now helping fight an on-going outbreak, is one of their buyers.

"It's slowed them down, it's slowed us down. But, we're working to figure out how to manage this issue," Williams said.

"What we saw was this very odd scenario where box beef prices or retail prices were rising, but live cattle prices were falling, because there was no where for the beef to go," Hudson said.

Williams says his industry rarely relies on government assistance, but may need the help this time, to keep going.

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