How the meat industry shortage is impacting Arizona during the pandemic

The chairman of Tyson Foods came out with a stark warning to Americans after closing several meat processing plants amid the coronavirus pandemic.

John Tyson says the food supply chain is breaking because in addition to meat shortages, farmers across the nation simply will not have anywhere to sell their livestock.

In recent weeks, Tyson and a number of other companies closed plants because of coronavirus outbreak and faced staffing shortages caused by the pandemic.

How is that affecting the supply chain in Arizona? It's affecting the efficiency of the product. 

Farmers main focus now is safety and health of employees.

"You have a tremendous amount of supply, so actual calves from the ground to the field, and they’re ready to go and you have a kink sort of in that supply chain at the packing plants," says Patrick Bray, executive vice president for the Arizona Farm & Ranch Group.

That kink is the health and safety of essential workers who work in close proximity to each other. 

Nick Vyas with the USC Marshall School of Business, says, "I think the issue that we’re seeing in public health care industry is putting our doctors, nurses and other professionals at risk in this crisis," he said. "We’re doing the same thing in the food supply chain and God forbid we disrupt that, then we will have a serious issue feeding a large portion of our [country]."

The impact of COVID-19 is moving down the food chain with hotels and restaurants closed.

Meat processing plants are left with only grocery stores to distribute your next meal. 

"Our biggest concern right now is really at packing facilities across the nation. You seen some closures that they’ve dealt with the health and safety of employees. Everyone is getting sick and that is our biggest concern ...," Bray said.

Bray tells FOX 10 that efficiency has gone down as they implement these changes. 

"I think what’s next is the packing plants are working on the health and safety of employees and to operate as close as they can to the efficiency that they are used to, to continue to produce that product," Bray explained.

He says people should not be worried right now as there's enough meat to go around but is asking the governor to lift the ban on restaurants and hotels, which is a big part of their business.