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COVID-19

Tyson Foods appoints new CEO while meat industry struggles with continued COVID-19 challenges

Erika Beras Aug 4, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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Food companies like Tyson have not been able to make up all of the ground they lost during the pandemic through grocery store sales. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
COVID-19

Tyson Foods appoints new CEO while meat industry struggles with continued COVID-19 challenges

Erika Beras Aug 4, 2020
Food companies like Tyson have not been able to make up all of the ground they lost during the pandemic through grocery store sales. Drew Angerer/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Tyson Foods has named a new CEO: Dean Banks. He’s taking over the meat processing giant this fall at a tough time for the industry. The company just reported a steep decline in quarterly profits, down 22% from last year, largely the result of the pandemic.

It’s been a difficult few months for the meat processing industry. Thousands of workers have had COVID-19. Factories closed and reopened. And, according to Ohio State University logistics professor Terry Esper, companies like Tyson have had to repackage food that was meant to supply food service. But that isn’t easy.

“Preparing food for food service is totally different than preparing food for retail,” Esper said. “Food service doesn’t require the same branding, it doesn’t require the same packaging.”

Before COVID-19, people ate out at restaurants, arenas, hotels and university cafeterias. In fact, according to Christopher Muller, a professor of hospitality at Boston University, about half of all meals were served away from home. The big food companies were supplying those places.

And now, “we just haven’t made up for it in the grocery business,” Muller said.

Tyson says one area of weakness is the products it supplies to schools. The company said in an email that problems there may continue depending on states’ reopening plans.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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