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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 Meatingplace.com 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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