Differential Impact of COVID-19 on the Beef and Pork Processing Systems in the United States and European Union
Keri L. Jacobs, Dermot J. Hayes
July 2023 [23-WP 652]
Jacobs, K.L. and D.J. Hayes. 2023. "Differential Impact of COVID-19 on the Beef and Pork Processing Systems in the United States and European Union." Working paper 23-WP 652. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.
The United States experienced catastrophic failure in its beef and pork value chains in April –June of 2020 because of plant closures due to COVID-19. At one point, 40% of beef and pork processing capacity was down, meat was rationed, and some hogs were euthanized. The European Union experienced several plant shutdowns but did not experience scarcity of meat or euthanize any animals during this period.
This report summarizes expert opinions collected during a trip to Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany. The purpose of the trip was to find out why the European Union was apparently able to deal with COVID-19 more successfully than in the United States. We visited plants in all three countries and also spoke with industry experts. We were then able to compare the EU experiences as described to us against work we had already done that documented the US experience.