Supermarket Perimeter - July 2020 - 36

Meat & Poultry

FORGING AHEAD
Beef industry shows resilience amid COVID-19 supply challenges
BY BRIDGET WASSER

THE PAST FEW MONTHS HAVE stressed many supply chains in the
United States, and the beef supply chain is no exception.
Despite navigating uncharted territory and facing unforeseen
circumstances, including unprecedented demand swings from
foodservice to retail and plant closures, the beef industry has
demonstrated its resilience by adapting in extraordinary ways and
continuing to produce high-quality, wholesome and delicious beef.

protective equipment to employees, implementing additional cleaning
procedures, and employing social distancing in plants. Worker safety
is the paramount concern for cattle producers. In addition to the
changes being implemented by packers, new relationships are being
built between vendors and customers to keep product moving and help
meet ongoing high consumer and operator demand.

The onset of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders left retailers of all sizes
scrambling to keep their meat cases full as consumers began stocking
up on beef and the supply chain quickly shifted to divert foodservice
products to the retail channel.
Even more strain was added to the available beef supply as
processors reduced operating capacity at their facilities and temporarily
closed some plants to implement updated safety measures and ensure
the safety of their workers.
While there has not been a shortage of cattle supply during the
pandemic, major disruptions to the supply chain slowed the flow of
cattle into processing plants. This, combined with increased demand,
led to limited availability of certain beef cuts at retail and some retail
operators to limit purchases to ensure the availability of beef for more
customers.
These disruptions have then led to challenging wholesale and retail
price increases.
While the past two months have been challenging, beef supply is
headed in the right direction. We expect plants will continue to increase
their operating capacity with the goal of getting back to full capacity as
quickly as possible.
To ensure high-quality beef remains available for operators
and consumers, packers are continuing to provide supplemental
36 - JULY 2020

As the foodservice segment begins to rebound, additional shifts in the
supply chain will be required to ensure the availability of beef.
Luckily, the supply chain is resilient and is already making these
necessary changes. While we cannot forecast exactly what's to
come, many economic experts agree that, barring any unforeseen
circumstances, we're likely past the most disruptive period of plant
closures and slowdowns. That means we should see further increases
in production capacity and supply in the coming weeks and months.
Some changes that have been made to the beef supply chain are
here to stay, and some may fade away. However, one constant has
been the commitment of America's᩿beef farmers and ranchers᩿to
caring for their animals and families, those who process and deliver
beef, and beef consumers, just as they have been for generations.᩿The
beef industry and our partners throughout the supply chain are doing
everything possible to stabilize supply. We are᩿facing tough times, but
we are resilient and committed to working together to solve the new
challenges we all face᩿feeding᩿American families in 2020 and beyond.᩿

supermarketperimeter.com

Bridget Wasser is executive director,
meat science, culinary & supply
chain, at the Denver-based National
Cattlemen's Beef Association, a
contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

ALEXANDER RATHS - STOCK.ADOBE.COM

What's to come
Beef industry impacts and subsequent response


http://www.supermarketperimeter.com

Supermarket Perimeter - July 2020

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