Survivalists may want to start preparing for another possible supply problem – this time, with beef. Read all about the beef shortage the US is currently experiencing so you’re better prepared for this crisis situation.
US Beef Shortage | What You Need to Know
Why Is There a Beef Shortage in the United States?
In a nutshell, the US, Australia, and other major countries around the world are currently suffering from a beef shortage.
This is because of a cyberattack on the world’s largest meat producer, JBS. This prompted the Brazil-based company to shut down its processing plants in Australia and North America.
According to CNN, an official from the US United Food and Commercial Workers International Union stated that the company has shut down all of its beef plants in the US. The US Department of Agriculture is also working with other processors to ensure a stable supply.
The bureau has stated that it has reached out to other meat processors in the country to ask them to accommodate the additional capacity. According to them, this will allow the supply chain to keep on moving unabated.
Unfortunately, even a day of disruption in the industry can cause not only a tighter meat supply, but also higher prices. It can also cause a rise in the prices and supply of other meat products such as poultry and pork.
The report further states that according to commodity prices experts at Steiner Consulting Group, the issue is a major one. Its effects will depend heavily on how long the problem persists.
Why Is There a Shortage of Beef and Chicken?
Apart from the beef shortage in the country, the US is also experiencing a poultry shortage. According to Arkansas-based poultry processor Tyson Foods, this is because of roosters that are not producing the number of chicks the company estimated they would.
Tyson Foods, like JBS, is also one of the world’s largest processors of chicken, beef, and other meat products. Breeding companies supply chicken producers such as Tyson with hens and roosters. In turn, these companies breed them and hatch the chickens’ eggs for poultry.
In this case, Tyson also owns the breeding company that supplies them with roosters and hens, Cobb-Vantress. The company explained that their shift to a different breed of roosters that will fertilize the eggs caused the shortage in the supply of poultry.
Tyson Foods made this move as these roosters supposedly improved meat quality. Unfortunately, they later found out that eggs fertilized by these roosters hatched less often.
According to the New York Post, Tyson Foods poultry business president Donnie King admitted that the shift to the new type of male was “a bad decision.” The executive also added that they are working to replace the roosters soon, though they expect the hit on supply to last until next year.
King also noted that their hatching issues accounted for only half of the problem with supply. The sudden surge in demand for poultry made up the other half of the hit on supply.
He further added that the winter storm that hit Texas, as well as worker absenteeism, are also contributing to the supply problems.
Is JBS Shut Down?
The cyberattack did cause JBS to shut down several of its beef processing facilities. In the United States alone, the company had to halt its operations at nine beef processing plants. However, most of its plants are in operation again after it paid a ransom of $11 million to the hackers in Bitcoin.
The company decided to pay the hackers after consulting with both external cybersecurity experts as well as its own tech workers. They decided to pay the ransom to make sure that the cybercriminals do not steal the data.
According to The Washington Post, investigations by the FBI have led them to believe that the attack was orchestrated by the Russian ransomware group known as REvil or Sodinokibi.
These kinds of attacks against high-profile targets have become more prevalent in the past two years. Cybercriminals conducted a similar attack against Colonial Pipeline, which also caused shortages and long lines at gas pumps throughout the East Coast.
The attack against Colonial sent government regulators in a frenzy to address cybersecurity threats both in private and public realms. It also forced Colonial to pay the cybercriminals $4.3 million in bitcoin.
In the US, ransomware victims have paid a total of $412 million in 2020 alone. Experts believe that the actual number is a lot higher as some victims no longer report the payments they make. Targets have included a variety of profiles, from travelers to gas buyers and even cancer patients.
Why Is the Price of Beef Going Up?
Prior to the pandemic, most Americans may have easily dismissed the idea of a beef shortage or of any kind of shortage for that matter. The COVID-19 crisis, however, has exposed the many limitations in the country’s meat supply chain.
As the pandemic began to spread, workers in meat processing plants became sick. This led to the temporary closure of several meatpacking facilities. In turn, meat prices soared and shortages in meats of all kinds were seen throughout the country.
The prospect of even more shortages today are raising alarm bells for consumers. This is especially true as they have already been paying more for meat even before the cyberattack on JBS and the problems experiences by Tyson Foods.
As of May 1, 2021, meat prices were up 6.1 percent compared to the same period last year. Chicken and pork prices also went up 4 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.
The cyberattacks on JBS paired with the hits on the production of Tyson Foods, as well as the rise in demand for meat, have all caused the sudden jump in the prices of beef, poultry, and other meat products.
Is the US beef shortage a symptom of an incoming overall food shortage in the country? Check out this video courtesy of the Epic Economist and find out:
Beef shortage is only one of the many problems the country is currently experiencing in terms of meat supply. To better prepare yourself for any crisis situation that may happen in the future, keep the things above in mind as you prepare for possible shortages in the future.
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