With several meat processing facilities in Canada reducing production because of outbreaks of COVID-19 among staff, will Canada soon see meat shortages and possible price hikes? The University of Guelph has experts who can offer comment.
Prof. Mike von Massow is a food economist with U of G’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics. He said shortages of fresh meat are unlikely in the short term, but the longer term is less certain.
He pointed out that meat processing in Canada is integrated with facilities in the U.S., with beef and cattle moving both ways across the border. So for the short term, Canadian producers can make arrangements to send their cattle to the U.S. for processing.
“That’s not an insignificant problem, but for now, it’s not one that is likely to lead to empty meat displays at grocery stores,” von Massow said.
Von Massow studies the structure and performance of food supply chains, the economics of food demand in restaurant and retail, management science and operations, and pricing strategy.
Prof. Benjamin Bohrer, from U of G’s Department of Food Science, said one of the first changes consumers might see is reduced availability of certain types of meat products.
He said the industry is still trying to react to the significant disruptions to demand with the pandemic lockdowns forcing most restaurants and food service outlets to close, putting more demand on grocery stores as consumers cook at home.
Bohrer researches meat science and animal feed to improve meat and meat production. He focuses on how to raise animals efficiently and humanely while creating products that meet consumer expectations.
Prof. Evan Fraser, the director of U of G’s Arrell Food Institute, agrees that there are currently no shortages nor is there a massive food security crisis in Canada as a result of these slowdowns.
“That said, beef and pork may not be as cheap in the next month or two as it has traditionally been,” he added.
Fraser holds the Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and studies food security, food prices, rural agricultural policy and how each is affected by climate change
All are available for interviews.
Prof. Ben Bohrer
Prof. Mike von Massow
Prof. Evan Fraser