Article content continued
“We have plenty of food that will continue to reach grocery stores on a regular basis. But it is clear that COVID-19 is causing significant disruptions in our food supply chains,” Bibeau said by email. “As a result, Canadians could see less variety in grocery stores or a fluctuation in food prices.”
Canadians could see less variety in grocery stores or a fluctuation in food prices
Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau
An outbreak at Cargill Inc.’s beef plant in High River, Alberta sickened nearly half of the facility’s 2,000 workers. Virus outbreaks at JBS SA’s plant in Brooks, Alberta have also prompted slowdowns and the supply squeeze is already forcing companies such as McDonald’s Corp.’s Canadian unit to import beef to supplement their needs.
The two Alberta plants account for roughly 85 per cent of Canada’s beef slaughter capacity. “We will continue to use imported beef until there is a continuous and consistent supply of Canadian raw material,” McDonald’s Canada said Wednesday in an email.
60,000 Foreign Workers
In Canada, there’s also a huge dependency on temporary foreign workers to plant, tend and harvest fruit and vegetable crops. More than 60,000 workers help do everything from prune apple trees to plant asparagus and farmers are struggling to get enough labour to do the work. So far, only about half the workers have arrived.
Some Ontario vegetable growers are worried yields will drop 30 per cent as farms struggle to fill roles, feeding through to consumer costs, according to the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph.