Friday, 31 January 2020 09:17

Coronavirus starting to impact meat processing 

Written by  Staff Reporters
Simon Limmer. Simon Limmer.

Disruption in China caused by the coronavirus is forcing meat processor Silver Fern Farms to reduce production from next week.

Read: Coronavirus forces NZ meat shipments away from China.

In an email to farmer suppliers, SFF chief executive Simon Limmer says mutton production will be impacted.

“Mutton production will be impacted from next week with limited capacity available nationally for processing until there is greater clarity around the situation in China,” Limmer says.

“We are turning down processing volumes in the very short term to reduce the future risk of significant stoppages in our plants.”

Limmer says the coronovirus health emergency combined with the timing of the China New Year holiday has impacted trade: China businesses, ports and government departments are operating at restricted capacity.

“People are under movement restrictions and in many cases cannot get to work, or back home, potentially for at least another week,” he says. 

“With congestions at port, movements of product into China are being disrupted with delays becoming a reality We are having to hold product in New Zealand which had already been produced for China. 

“This has begun to place significant stress on all cold storage facilities across New Zealand If the situation continues for an extended period of time our cold stores will become full, and that will impact our ability to continue processing in some plants.”

Chinese officials have confirmed over 7,700 cases of the mysterious illness as foreign governments, including New Zealand, are airlifting their citizens out of Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter.

Some parts of China including Wuhan have movement restrictions in place. The coronavirus outbreak has been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation.

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