Coronavirus Riles Chicken and Egg Supplies

April 6, 2020
Sanderson Farms is cutting production of poultry due to workers idled by the coronavirus threat, while the price of eggs have skyrocketed nationwide.

Sanderson Farms is cutting production of poultry due to workers idled by the coronavirus threat, while the price of eggs have skyrocketed nationwide.

Sanderson’s CEO, Joe Sanderson, said in a conference call April 2 that 15 workers had tested positive for exposure, and that more than 400 other workers in Georgia have been ordered to stay home, even though they showed no signs of infection, as a precaution. As a result, Sanderson said, the company is reducing production from 1.3 million to 1 million birds per week at its plant in Moultrie, Ga. Sanderson had reported its first case of coronavirus exposure on March 23. The company is already shifting production toward the cuts demanded by the retail market and away from the whole birds preferred by foodservice customers.

Meanwhile, eggs are turning out to be among the food commodities most affected by the coronavirus situation. The Wall Street Journal reports that wholesale egg prices have gone from 94 cents per dozen at the beginning of March to $3.01 last week.

The situation has been compounded by formerly low prices for eggs that had led poultry farmers to cut back their laying herds. It takes up to five months to grow a hen to laying size, making it hard for farmers to respond quickly to price spikes.

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