In this file:
· German Meat Giant Blamed for Outbreak
· Tönnies plants closure could have knock-on effect on market
· ‘Smart Lockdowns’ Are the Future in Europe
German Meat Giant Blamed for Outbreak
By Pan Demetrakakes, Food Processing
Jun 24, 2020
Germany’s biggest pork processor is being blamed for an outbreak of COVID-19 that is threatening the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
A plant in Gütersloh, a city in western Germany, owned by Tönnies Group had more than 1,500 workers test positive for the coronavirus. Those workers account for a spike in Germany’s overall coronavirus cases. As a result of the outbreak in the plant, public venues in the Gütersloh district have been shut and public gatherings banned.
Tönnies Group, established in 1971, had revenue of $7.5 billion in 2018 and processes 27% of Germany’s pork. The pandemic has drawn attention to working conditions at Germany’s meatpacking plants, which, like American ones, rely heavily on foreign-born workers. CNN quoted a union spokesperson charging that at Tönnies and other German meat plants, workers routinely toil in close quarters, in unhealthy conditions, and are expected to work unpaid overtime...
Tönnies plants closure could have knock-on effect on market
By Alistair Driver, Pig World (UK)
June 25, 2020
The closure of the large Tönnies processing plant in Rheda-Wiedenbruck, in Germany is a concern and could have a downward impact on prices, according to AHDB analyst Bethan Wilkins.
In the past few weeks, the pig market in Europe has stabilised, with reports of improving meat sales and tightening live pig supplies. The EU average pig reference price has hovered around €163/100kg since the end of May, having fallen significantly over previous weeks.
While the outlook had looked to be improving, there is now uncertainty around this, due in part to the closure of the Tönnies plant after around 1,500 people tested positive for COVID-19.
The plant, which has stopped exports to China, reportedly processes in excess of 100,000 pigs a week and it seems it will be closed for a few weeks, Ms Wlikins said.
“Tonnies is apparently confident the pigs can be diverted elsewhere. However, it seems likely increased tightness in slaughter capacity will put downward pressure on prices in the coming week at least,” she added.
The plant usually takes large numbers of UK cull sow. This market may now face pressure, with most of these carcases exported to Germany, Ms Wilkins added.
“Germany is central to the European pork market and any price pressure is likely to have repercussions in other member states. Countries that export live pigs to Germany for slaughter may well face some difficulties, if these supplies prove difficult to divert,” she said...
‘Smart Lockdowns’ Are the Future in Europe
Germany, Italy and Portugal are betting on smaller, local shutdowns to prevent a new surge of coronavirus infections.
By Ferdinando Giugliano, Bloomberg Opinion
June 25, 2020
European Union countries are experimenting with new ways of dealing with the coronavirus. Germany, Portugal and Italy have all enforced selective or “smart” lockdowns, shutting down smaller regions in response to new outbreaks as opposed to bringing their entire countries to a halt.
This approach is the only hope of returning to a more normal life as we wait for a vaccine. However, it also puts a much larger onus on the public sector compared to generalized lockdowns. Health officials have to ensure small outbreaks do not get out of control and force the need for harsher measures.
Germany has seen a number of outbreaks in abattoirs, leading local governments to declare new lockdowns, such as in the municipality of Guetersloh, and enforce partial lockdowns, such as in the nearby town of Warendorf. Over the past few months, Italy has managed to contain some small flare-ups, including one in the tiny region of Molise and one in Rome, without having to impose additional restrictions. But the southern region of Calabria has recently imposed quarantine on an area of the seaside town of Palmi, after a handful of cases were reported. And after a worrying new spike in cases, Portugal has ordered stores in parts of the Lisbon region to shut down early, among other restrictions.
Some of these cases show striking similarities. For example, many of these new outbreaks originated in migrant communities facing overcrowded living quarters or unsafe working conditions. This was true of one meat processing plant owned by the Toennies Group in Germany, where more than a thousand employees, most of them migrants from Eastern Europe, came down with Covid-19. This was also the case of the much smaller outbreak in Italy’s central region of Marche. It was similar in Portugal: At the end of May, an outbreak emerged in Lisbon’s Jamaica neighborhood, which was already struggling with a housing crisis. Health-care facilities are another potential source of contagion, as was the case for the recent flare-up in Rome.
So far, the authorities have managed to contain these outbreaks. In Italy, the number of new infections has been stable in the low hundreds for the past few weeks, despite a substantial reopening of the economy. In Germany, the reproduction rate “R” of the coronavirus, which measures how many people a virus carrier infects on average, shot up to nearly three last weekend — well above the level of one needed to believe the outbreak is under control. Fortunately, this factor has begun to decline. According to the country’s Robert Koch Institute, it also does not appear to be too alarming since the overall number of cases remains relatively low...