More Mexican beef headed to U.S. dinner tables as American supply crunch bites

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MEXICO CITY/CHICAGO (Reuters) – More Mexican steaks and other beef cuts are headed north of the border after the coronavirus outbreak has hobbled U.S. meat processing plants, potentially offsetting fears of shortages affecting businesses from fast-food chains to grocery stores but angering American ranchers.

The Mexican industry chalks up the export growth to new safety measures adopted by plants, as well as relatively smaller-scale operations that have so far kept infections at bay and business humming.

In the United States, there has been a surge of cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at slaughterhouses and meat processing plants. That has crimped domestic supply, leading to unease among U.S. consumers and even warnings from leading fast-food burger chains like Wendy’s [WENWI.UL] that popular menu items may soon be discontinued.

In a recipe for popular discontent, those shortages could cause meat supplies to fall by nearly a third by the end of this month, while prices jump by around 20%.

Mexican beef supplies were already a growing part of U.S. sales prior to the crisis, and they are set for even stronger double-digit growth in 2020, said Juan Ley, president of Mexico’s main cattle growers association.


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