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Carlo Cadenas for Quartz

Covid-19 could change how Americans eat meat for decades

Chase Purdy
Member exclusive by Chase Purdy for Global trade, rerouted

The novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 has brought United States meat production to its knees.

In 2019, the US produced more than 103 billion pounds of beef, pork, and chicken, about a fifth of which was exported—both records for the nation. But as workers in several of the biggest US meatpacking plants have fallen ill with Covid-19, many production lines have been halted, changing the fortunes of meat producers in 2020 and even beyond. Daily slaughter rates have decreased by more than 25%, raising the specter of meat shortages and dampening US competitiveness in international export markets.

And with an eye on a weaker US meat system, meat producers in foreign countries have begun to make serious headway in selling their products to US-based consumers. If they succeed, it could wind up altering how Americans eat meat for decades, experts say.

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