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Tyson Foods to temporarily reduce prices of some beef products

Following disruptions attributed to the coronavirus at some meatpacking plants, Tyson Foods Inc says that it will be lowering the price of some beef products.

The Arkansas based company, which processes about one-fifth of the nation's beef, plans to reduce prices for ground beef, roasts and other beef products by as much as 20% to 30% for sales made this week to restaurants, grocery stores and other customers.

Nearly half of the company's beef is sold to grocery stores and food retailers.

Since the beginning of March, coronavirus outbreaks among meatpacking workers forced the temporary closure of about two dozen major U.S. meat processing plants.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that nationwide production of beef, pork and other red meat last week was about 28% lower than the same period last year, and the agency projected Tuesday that beef production in the second quarter of this year would be one-fifth below first-quarter levels.

Grocery stores and restaurants are paying more as a result.

Wholesale ground-beef prices this week topped $6.21 a pound, according to the USDA, more than triple their cost at the beginning of March. Some steak prices have doubled over the past two months.

Tyson and other beef processors also face scrutiny over their profits. Despite beef growing more expensive in supermarkets, cattle prices have tumbled in the U.S. Plains states, prompting federal officials to investigate the way companies like Tyson price and purchase cattle.

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