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Canadian pork prices are dropping steadily, despite an increase in food insecurity and an intense financial crisis. Part of the problem is oversupply, which results in a drop in producer prices, and a supply chain disruption, which creates a rise in consumer prices, due to shortages of processed pork, according to The Pig Site.
Canadian Pork Council Chair Rick Bergmann told reporters via teleconference that "COVID-19 has pushed the pork sector into a free fall by disrupting supply chains and driving down the prices of hogs."
He went on to say that "The market prices in Canada have fallen by a minimum of 30 percent since the start of this crisis. Farmers across our country expect to lose approximately 675 million dollars.
"Individual producers are expected to lose about 30 dollars per hog for every hog marketed that they're selling this year. In some regions per head loss is going to be more than that. The per head loss is looking at more than 50 dollars.
"This really can't be maintained.
"Farmers need the government and have requested the government to take emergency action to help farmers pay their feed and their fuel bills to provide some confidence that there's a future in ensuring consumers have access to ready supplies of Canadian pork."
Canadian meat producers have been facing this crisis since earlier this month, when cases of coronavirus led to work disruptions and slaughterhouse closures. Beef producers in Alberta, poultry plants in Ontario, and pork facilities in Quebec have all shuttered temporarily or severely slowed down.
Bergmann noted that there have been cases of hog farmers in eastern Canada that have disposed of their animals that were ready for slaughter because there's nowhere to process the meat for distribution. Slaughterhouses are not typically workplaces where social distancing is possible, with workers working elbow to elbow on assembly lines.
As a result, Canadian producers will be holding back on exports of meat to the US, which is also facing similar issues. Six of the major pork suppliers in the US have closed, including Smithfield in South Dakota and Tyson Foods. This is due to coronavirus outbreaks among workers at the plants.
In both nations, the problem is neither supply nor demand, but the mechanisms to bring the meat from farmer to market.