Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest processor of pork and other meat products, closed down one of its plants in South Dakota, while also issuing a warning that the U.S. may be on the verge of a shortage of meat products due to the coronavirus outbreak, as reported by Reuters.
Smithfield claims that the now-shuttered facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota processed roughly 5% of the nation’s pork, and employed nearly 4,000 workers. Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan released a statement on Sunday addressing the closure, as well as his belief that a meat shortage is coming, saying that “it is impossible to keep our grocery stores stocked if our plants are not running,” and that “these facility closures will also have severe, perhaps disastrous, repercussions for many in the supply chain.”
It has been reported that Smithfield Foods, purchased by China in 2014, had recently been redirecting many of its meat products away from American stores and instead sending them to China. The shift to China was first reported back in November, shortly before the coronavirus outbreak began to spread, which could imply possible foreknowledge of the coming pandemic on China’s part.