Tough times for meat packers

The international credit-rating firm Fitch Ratings says the economy and the H1N1 virus present some real challenges for U.S. meat packers. Fitch director Carla Norfleet Taylor tells world demand has slowed and a number of countries continue to ban U.S. pork since H1N1 was found in the country in April. Taylor says, “Unless production levels decline to accommodate reduced demand, a substantial decline in protein prices is likely to occur.” She believes the big companies like Smithfield and Tyson will make it through but single-product companies like National Beef and distressed companies like Pilgrim’s Pride are quite vulnerable.

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