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Beef output in US much lower than plant shutdown reduced capacity suggests

The country's beef output has decreased at a more significant rate than what plant closings due to the coronavirus pandemic originally suggested, signaling that the current beef shortage could continue after the plants reopen.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cattle slaughter dropped 37 percent this past week compared to what it was year ago, Bloomberg reports. This is higher than the 10 to 15 percent capacity that meat plants around the country have lost due to the pandemic.

In the same vein, hog slaughter was down 35 percent from a year ago, more than the 25 to 30 percent estimate from the shutdowns.

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Kroger, the country's largest traditional grocery chain, said Friday that it would begin limiting the purchase of pork and ground beef at "select stores." The shortage of supply has caused the wholesale prices of both meats to spike, Bloomberg reports.

The USDA estimated that 425,000 less cattle were slaughtered this week, an 8.6 percent decrease. The number of hogs slaughtered dropped 22 percent from the week before.

President of Sioux Falls AFL-CIO Kooper Caraway told Bloomberg that the Smithfield Foods pork processing plant in South Dakota that has been closed since April 12 because of a COVID-19 outbreak will reopen Monday. Smithfield is the top pork producer in the country.