Possible Meat Shortages Due to Plant Closures

Possible Meat Shortages Due to Plant Closures

Three of the United State’s largest pork processing plants, namely Tyson Foods, Smithfield, and JBS, were closed because employees their tested positive for the coronavirus.

The plant closures reduce the production of meat by 25% and may result in meat shortages in grocery stores.  In addition, farmers are impacted as they cannot sell their livestock to be processed, leading to a serious food waste issue that exacerbates disruptions to the meat supply chain.


Video Spotlight:


This post is based on the Eco Watch article, Tyson Foods Warns of Meat Shortage Following Coronavirus Slaughterhouse Closures, by Olivia Rosane, April 28, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Video Spotlight. Image source: John A. Rizzo/Digital Vision/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the meat supply chain?

Guidance: The pandemic affects  the downstream and upstream meat supply chain.  The production of meat is reduced by 25% because meat processing plants are closed as workers are sickened with the coronavirus.  Continue reading

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COVID-19 Exposes the Fragility of Our Global Supply Chains

COVID-19 Exposes the Fragility of Our Global Supply Chains

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. What happens when several links are weak?

If you think shortages of consumer products and personal protective equipment are worrisome, think again. Despite prior warnings that pandemics may paralyze our supply chains, we may soon run out of many other goods, including food and critical vaccines. Deep, scattered supply chains and reliance on a few global suppliers have hindered our ability to respond quickly to changes in demand. As it turns out, a lean supply chain may not be an agile one.


Video Spotlight: Making Vaccines


This post is based on the FiveThirtyEight article, How COVID-19 Is Wreaking Havoc on our Ability to Make Things – Including Vaccines, by M. Koerth, April 15, 2020, and the YouTube video, Vaccine Manufacture: It’s Complicated, by GSK, May 4, 2016. Image source: Shutterstock/Ienetstan.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the current hurdles in the manufacture of vaccines?

Guidance: The hurdles include: ingredient sourcing (thousands of ingredients coming from factories with many tiers of suppliers; limited quantities of materials to meet surging global demand), worldwide shortage of glass since 2015, and heavy reliance on overseas suppliers and manufacturers.

2. What are Continue reading

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3D Printed Swabs to Reduce Shortages

3D Printed Swabs to Reduce Shortages

Formlabs, a Massachusetts-based 3D-printing company, is preparing its Ohio manufacturing facility to supply 100,000 swabs per day to stem the shortage of this key component of COVID-19 test kits.

These swabs will first be sent to partner hospitals that helped develop and design the swabs.  A plan is at work to access the distribution channels of 3,000 hospitals in the U.S. so that Formlabs can supply the much needed component of the COVID-19 test kits for widespread testing of the disease.


Video Spotlight: Hospitals face shortages of medical supplies as US cases spike (Mar 20, 2020, Fox News)


This post is based on the Tech Crunch article, 3D-printing company Formlabs expects to bring new swabs for COVID-19 to market, by Jonathan Shieber, March 25, 2020, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Jonathan Parry/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. Is Formlabs in a position to address the shortage of medical supplies of COVID-19?

Guidance: Formlabs has the 3-D printing technology and ISO-135 controlled facility to manufacture test swabs, a key component of COVID-I9 test kits in high demand but short supply.  With more COVID-19 test kits, more testing can be done Continue reading

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