What Does COVID-19 Mean For The Meat Industry?

It’s safe to say that almost all areas of life have been impacted by COVID-19. From our jobs to our social lives, everything has been turned upside down in this ‘new normal’ we’re living through. Thanks to our self-confessed plant power obsession, we’ve been very closely following the repercussions of the pandemic on the meat industry. We all saw the empty shelves brought about by (ill-advised) panic-buying, and it seemed like along with toilet paper, meat was a hot property product people were grabbing like their life depended on it, and here at CKHN HQ we were left with some major questions.

Is America’s Love Affair With Meat Under Threat?

Much like the rest of the world, it’s fair to say the meat industry has had to undergo some pretty major changes during this unprecedented time. One of the big ones? Meat processing plants have been left with no choice but to shut due to infections in the workforce, notably Tyson Foods had to close a pork-processing plant after more than 20% of its employees tested positive, and that’s just one example. With the close quarters of people working in processing plants, is it any wonder that according to the UCFW union more than 10,000 employees across the industry have been infected?
What Has That Meant For Meat?
The effect of this is incoming meat shortages for the public has been higher prices and millions of animals that may never even enter the food chain. According to the USDA in May 2020, American beef plants were operating at a rate of 19% less productivity than this time last year, and there was an approximate 90% increase in the price of wholesale pork. The federal government has now stepped in with the Defense Production Act, meaning plants are almost operating at previous productivity levels and prices are starting to drop, but health concerns for workers and sanitation concerns amongst consumers still remain, leaving the industry a long way from ‘business as usual.’
Shift To Sustainable
With no signs of an end to the disruptions major meat industry players are facing, people are looking for alternatives to the convoluted norm of how we as a nation ingest our protein. With the factory farm system in a tailspin, Jonathan Safran Foer the author of ‘Eating Animals’ has gone as far as stating that “the end of meat is here” in the New York Times. While we wouldn’t go THAT far, what we do know is that we are now seeing a spike in demand for plant-based meat products. Nielsen reported that in the 9 weeks leading up to May, sales of alternative meat products in grocery stores went up 264%. For those of you that haven’t had your finger on the pulse when it comes to plant power, this may sound like a lot, but the truth is alternative meat options were well on their way to stardom way before the pandemic hit.
Rooting For Plants
A huge reason behind why we started CHKN Not Chicken was to provide our customers with a product they can trust, and that fits around their lifestyle. Amongst the issues surrounding the buckling meat industry, is the realization that during a crisis, people need consistent access to protein that can support their bodies through difficult times. Enter CHKN Not Chicken. With everything changing so quickly, it’s difficult to know what changes will stay in place once the ‘new normal’ is replaced with our ‘real normal.’ One thing’s for certain though, CHKN Not Chicken has got your back today, tomorrow and through whatever comes next.