COVID-19: AFS’s Dale Woerner outlines meat production changes ahead
By: Norman Martin
From beef to pork, what you can buy at the grocery store and for how much might be changing. The reason: Meat processing plants are temporarily shutting down by force or choice in at least eight different states.
But, experts and producers worry these shutdowns could lead to meat shortages. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, when you compare the second week of April in 2019 to 2020, beef production is down nearly 20 percent, but the demand is up.
Earlier this week New Orleans' WVUE-TV Anchor/Investigative Reporter Lee Zurik detailed how these pandemic-related changes could affect you. As part of his report, Zurik interviewed Dale Woerner, who holds Texas Tech University's Cargill Endowed Professorship in Meat Science Sustainability and an associate professor with the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.
"The demand in hamburger or ground meat products really increased over the last month because that's what people like to cook in their homes," Woerner said.
Looking ahead though, he said, consumers might need to adjust the type of meats they're buying. "We're producing a lot less meat," he said, "so we'll see less meat available for consumer as a result of less animals being harvested."
Meat production slowdowns will have an immediate effect on the producer, where some will be fighting for survival. "Agriculture, in general, is a low-margin business," Woerner said. "These guys are working hard to make any money as it is. Frankly, right now with prices the way they are, they [livestock producers] are losing money."
Woerner's research and teaching focus is on meat quality, processing, cookery, flavor and nutritional value, as well as red meat composition, yield and international marketing, innovative carcass cutting strategies, meat shelf life and livestock quality management systems.
Woerner, who joined the faculty in 2018, earned his bachelor's (2003) and master's (2005) degrees at Texas Tech. His doctorate is from Colorado State University. His position in Tech's Department of Animal and Food Sciences was made possible by a $750,000 donation from Cargill, one of the nation's leaders in developing and providing food and agricultural products for the public.
CONTACT: Dale Woerner, Cargill Endowed Professorship in Meat Science Sustainability, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 834- 4565 or email@example.com
0424NM20 / To see WVUE-TV Lee Zurik's full report, "Meat processing plants making changes during COVID-19 pandemic,"please click here
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Editor: Norman Martin
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