Sanderson Farms reported a drop of 85% in profit for the most recent quarter, a situation that its CEO attributes to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on an investor conference call, Joe Sanderson anticipated lower production rates and higher operating costs through the end of the pandemic. Sanderson Farms’ profits stood at $6.1 million for the quarter ending April 30, compared with $40.6 million for the same quarter last year – even though sales were up slightly. The company avoided a loss only because of a $37.4 tax benefit under the federal coronavirus relief act.
A major effect of the pandemic has been to switch demand from foodservice to retail. Sanderson Farms started responding in mid-March by ramping up retail production, which requires smaller-piece processing and packaging. But overall, the company ended up processing 4.2% fewer pounds than anticipated.
Joe Sanderson told the conference that the company is seeing about 600 worker absences a day, out of an overall workforce of about 18,000, but added, “We’re able to get all of our chickens processed.”