UACES Facebook Meat production, chick placements fall with shuttering of food service outlets
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April 20, 2020

Meat production, chick placements fall with shuttering of food service outlets

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts

  • Last week’s beef production down nearly 20 percent from a year ago
  • Chick placement for production well below seasonal averages
  • Find the report here:

(223 words)

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LITTLE ROCK — The COVID-19 pandemic is hammering U.S meat production two ways: strangling demand from shuttered food service operations and shutdowns of meat processing facilities, said John Anderson, economist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. 

Chick placement graph

Anderson, who is head of the Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness department for the Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, provide insights into COVID’s effects on the proteins sector. 

Pork production giant Smithfield Foods temporarily closed three plants in the last weeks in South Dakota, Missouri and Wisconsin. Other companies have also closed plants because employees tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“For the week ending April 18, preliminary data suggests that beef production was almost 20 percent lower than the prior year,” he said. “Pork production for the same period was down 6 percent year over year.”

“Even allowing for a bit of slowdown on the Monday following Easter, these are substantial declines in production,” Anderson said.

Noting a one-week lag in reporting, poultry production “has been consistently lower for the past three weeks,” he said. Broiler production was down 5 percent year over year in the most recent weekly data.

Anderson said chick placements fell sharply in each of the last three weeks. “This is strongly counter-seasonal: chick placements are generally steadily increasing at this time of year.”

To learn more about agricultural economics, contact your local county extension agent or visit Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.

About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Director of Communications
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture