Tyson Foods expects coronavirus to continue crimping production

Sales volumes for beef and pork products rose 2.7% and 2%, respectively, for the latest quarter

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Tyson Foods Inc. said it expects continued challenges maintaining meat production for its current fiscal year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meat processors are struggling to maintain operations amid outbreaks of Covid-19 among their workforce, leading supermarket chains to brace for meat shortages. President Trump recently signed an executive order meant to allow production facilities to stay open.

"Operationally, we have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety," the company said Monday.

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TSNTYSON FOODS INC.62.50-0.11-0.18%

Tyson, for example, said on April 22 it would indefinitely suspend operations at a pork plant in Waterloo, Iowa, where 2,800 people work. The company said two days earlier it would resume limited production at another pork facility in Iowa, which it had idled for two weeks due to coronavirus worries.

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Around 20 meat- and food-processing workers have died due to Covid-19 and roughly 5,000 more had been hospitalized or had symptoms, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said late last month.

A shopper examines packages of Tyson brand chicken products in the refrigerator section of an Associated Supermarket in New York City on Nov. 14, 2005. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

"During the quarter, we witnessed an unprecedented shift in demand from food service to retail, temporary plant closures, reduced team member attendance, and supply chain volatility as a result of the virus," Chief Executive Noel White said in a statement.

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Tyson said it generated $10.89 billion in sales for its latest quarter, up from $10.44 billion a year earlier. Analysts polled by FactSet predicted $10.96 billion in sales for the latest period. The company said orders from retailers jumped in the quarter, which ended March 28, while those from restaurants and other food-service customers fell.

Sales volumes for beef and pork products rose 2.7% and 2%, respectively, for the latest quarter. Volumes for chicken slipped 1.5%, the company said.

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Prices for all of its products were up 1.6% in the quarter, with pork prices rising 6% compared with last year.

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The company reported a profit of $364 million, or $1 a share, for the quarter, down from earnings of $426 million, or $1.17 a share, in the comparable quarter last year. Tyson reported a profit following adjustments of 77 cents a share, short of the $1.04 a share that analysts expected.

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