SEVERAL American supermarkets are reporting incidents of “bare shelves” as fears grow over an imminent meat and egg shortage amid a surge in Omicron cases.
Food chains have been one of the first to be disrupted by the new super strain as workers fall ill and productivity drops.
The effect of Omicorn has already seen a shortfall of labor, including farms, manufactures and distributors, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Schools and day care centres are also feeling the ramifications with fuel prices set to rise as more Americans are kept working at home.
The Grand Rapids Mich.-based grocery distributor and store operator SpartanNash Co. claim they have seen a tripling of cases among their staff, leading to delays and workers who feel stretched thin.
And with reports of “bare shelves,” Bindiya Vakil, chief executive of supply-chain consultant Resilinc Corp, warns that “Labor shortages due to Omicron are only going to exacerbate the issue.”
Only last month, President Biden, delivered a progress report on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic as the new and highly contagious variant began to spread around the country.
As the United States continued to see an uptick in Covid cases, Biden announced the addition of 10,000 Covid testing sites on top of the 80,000 already up and running.
The new sites will be established in regions hardest hit by the latest wave with the Defense Production Act used to manufacture more tests.
The president also announced that his administration will purchase half a billion at-home rapid Covid tests for Americans.
The at-home tests are available to order for free through a website.
‘OMICRON IS NAILING US’
However, those plans have done little to quell immediate fears among meat production companies – who have reported signs of declining productivity.
During 2020, major outbreaks at plants led to shortages and spikes and a temporary shutdown of businesses.
And although the situation is considered less severe than two years ago, meat companies have again seen the number of hogs and cattle slaughter decline by as much as 6% in the past week, according to US Department of Agriculture figures.
The paper also adds that plants are finding it difficult to obtain food inspectors to come to work to oversee the processing of animals, which is legally required.
Paula Soldner, chair of the National Joint Council of Food Inspections Locals said: “The Delta variant didn’t have a whole lot of impact on the workforce, but Omicron is nailing us.”
Meanwhile, farms are also facing the repercussions of Omicron, with one of the biggest US producers of free-range eggs reporting staffing issues.
Despite actively and “aggressively” hiring workers, Campbell Soup and Egg Innovations say they are finding it increasingly difficult to keep workers onboard as they can’t mandate vaccinations “without taking a hit.”
However, it is understood that the issue has yet to affect their production and the supermarket chains that they supply.
On Friday, the US reported 895, 490 new cases of coronavirus, reported the New York Times.
Elsewhere, just over 22% of the population have had a booster, according to Our World Data.