Eduardo Gonzalez Hoboken
Portfolio Manager, Qualitative Consultant, and Business Development in Hoboken, NJ
Meatpacking Automation: Options at COVID-19 Wake By González, Hoboken, NJ
The summer season is usually a time for family cookouts and Independence Day celebrations. However, in 2020, those summer activities have been hampered by the extreme economic and health woes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. One of the businesses that were struck worst by COVID-19 outbreaks was that of the meat processing industry, which saw thousands of employees fall ill and multiple deaths from the infection.
According to Eduardo Gonzalez, a Hoboken business researcher, meat shortages are being felt in markets across the United States, and the U.S. meatpacking industry is developing new technology to help solve the major problems raised by the pandemic.
Contrasts Meatpacking economies in the U.S. and European
The U.S. meatpacking industry is characterized by cold and cramped facilities that turn animals into food products. Owing to the tight working conditions and dubious cleanliness in these factories, regular and well-publicized food poisoning scares have threatened the meatpacking industry here. COVID-19 poses new problems, but it is the meat processing workers that are succumbing to the coronavirus instead of patients with illnesses. As a result, hundreds of hospitals have curtailed or ceased activities entirely.
The European meat processing industry, on the other hand, appears to run near full output, and one will be hard-pressed to gage the pandemic's impact on this busy manufacturing field. One factor is the disparity between U.S. and European facilities: the increasing use of robotic and automatic meat-processing systems. These devices aim to remove many of the dangers endemic in U.S. facilities from pollution and the transmission of pathogens.
In the complicated series of steps required to handle meat products, robotic and automated meatpacking systems take the place of human workers, helping to increase safety and productivity. At European laboratories, robots weigh carcasses, remove toxins, and carve the meat into pieces of serving size. Even these automatic devices deal with certain facets of the slaughtering process. Over 18,000 pigs can be processed every day with a minimum of human oversight in a single pig-processing plant in Denmark operated by Danish Crown, Europe's largest meatpacker.