Brazilian food company BRF SA said the potential closure of slaughterhouses due the spread of the novel coronavirus at meat production sites would make it impossible to keep output at current levels.
There are no BRF plants closed due to the outbreak, but at one point, the company’s Lajeado facility in Rio Grande do Sul state had been shut by authorities to contain the spread of the disease among workers.
“We have to be aware that if contagion worsens and authorities see the need to close units it is mathematically impossible to ensure production levels,” Luz said.
BRF said this week nearly 340 meatpacking workers at a its Concórdia plant, which employs 5,132 people, had tested positive for the virus and would be submitted to further testing..
As the disease spreads, Luz said BRF will be hiring 5,000 new workers, up from 2,000 announced in April, to offset absentee meat plant employees and compensate for those unable to work amid the public health crisis.
Rival JBS SA is also facing challenges, as it is being sued by labor prosecutors in two Brazilian states over alleged failure to adequately protect workers amid the pandemic.
At the same time, JBS is trying to reopen a plant in Santa Catarina state after a labor inspection found irregularities in measures to control the spread of the disease and a high number of employees who had tested positive for coronavirus.
On Wednesday, a labor court in the remote state of Rondonia ordered the closure of a plant operated there by JBS until the company tests all employees.
Most of the coronavirus outbreaks have occurred in Southern states like Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, where most of Brazil’s pork and chicken processors are based.