The Cargill meat processing plant in Guelph has begun steps to temporarily close its facility after a significant 57 cases of COVID-19 in the region were linked to the facility.
Food economist Dr. Michael von Massow, a professor in the University of Guelph’s Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, studies the structure and performance of food supply chains. He said the closure is a prudent move to protect worker and public health and break the chain of transmission.
As for how the closure will affect the meat processing supply chain, consumers are unlikely to see significant impacts, he said.
“We have a highly integrated North American and international beef supply chain. When much bigger plants in the West closed, we saw small short-term price increases, but not significant impacts on supply.”
On the other hand, this closure is “a very big deal for producers,” von Massow said.
“This plant is the only significant packing capacity in eastern Canada. Producers will have to hold cattle longer or ship cattle significantly further for processing, which will mean much higher costs for them.
“It highlights the significant lack of diversity in the cattle processing industry in Canada generally, and Ontario specifically.”
Von Massow is available for interviews.
Dr. Mike von Massow