Small meat processing at fork in the road

A livestock economist says the future of meat processing will likely take one of two routes depending on COVID-19.

The University of Missouri’s Scott Brown tells Brownfield there is a lot of legislative and producer interest in supporting small meat processors.

“There’s certainly an interest right now in local meat from consumers and I think they’re willing to pay some premium for that product,” Brown said. “For me, if we continue to have these other events continuing to unfold, I think, that’s where we have some real opportunity for these smaller processors.”

But he said if COVID-19 is reigned in and the meat supply chain stabilizes, meat consumers might favor other qualities.

“Perhaps consumers get back to where price matters the most, and that’s the scenario where, with the economies of scale in these large plants, it may be tough for smaller processors to compete,” he said.

Brown said small meat processors likely still represent a small portion of processing.

Brownfield interviewed Brown at the Missouri Pork Institute in Sedalia, Missouri Wednesday.

Scott Brown Interview

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