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U.S. Meat-Plant Changes Signal End of the 99-Cent Chicken

  • Companies running slower rates, plan for more automation ahead
  • Changes will likely mean higher costs for retailers, consumers
     
Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg
Updated on

The human cost of producing 99-cent chickens and affordable burgers during a pandemic is pushing U.S. meatpackers to eye major operational changes that will likely make American meat more costly.

Some plants are already running slower than normal to adhere to social distancing. But companies are also considering how best to redesign their operations to prevent infections, including by automating some lines altogether. The likely result: higher costs for an industry dominated by the likes of Tyson Foods Inc. and JBS SA that’s been very efficient at pumping out cheap meat.