COVID-19 could ‘be the straw that breaks the meat industry’s back’, according to an investment expert.
Jeremy Coller, who has been described as an ‘investment pioneer’, is the founder of the FAIRR Initiative, a collaborative investor network whose mission is to ‘build a global network of investors who are focused and engaged on the risks linked to intensive animal production within the broader food system’.
He warns that the meat industry ‘must tackle lax safety standards for food and workers alike’ if it is to avoid causing the next pandemic – and that the industry itself is at risk.
Coller’s organization FAIRR has just published research – titled An Industry Infected – which shows that 73 percent of the world’s largest animal protein producers score as ‘high risk’ in its ‘Pandemic Ranking’.
The ranking was based on performance across a set of seven criteria, including; worker safety, food safety, deforestation and biodiversity management, animal welfare, and antibiotic stewardship.
According to FAIRR, these criteria are ‘vital to preventing future zoonotic pandemics’ – and the poor scores demonstrate that ‘intensive animal production is at serious risk of creating and spreading a future pandemic’.
‘Avoiding the next pandemic’
“Factory farming is both vulnerable to pandemics, and guilty of creating them. It’s a self-sabotaging cycle that destroys value and risks lives,” Jeremy Coller, founder of FAIRR and CIO of Coller Capital, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
“To avoid causing the next pandemic, the meat industry must tackle lax safety standards for food and workers alike, closely confined animals, and overused antibiotics. This will disrupt a supply chain already cracking from fundamental land, water, and emissions constraints.”
Breaking the meat industry
The report follows U.S slaughterhouses being branded ‘COVID-19 hotpots’ by a top analyst.
According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, which has been compiling data of the positive cases and deaths, as of June 3, there have been at least 23,000 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 216 plants in 33 states, and at least 74 reported worker deaths at 35 plants in 21 states.
Worker infections led to more than 20 slaughterhouses across the States shutting – after which US meat giant Tyson Foods took out full-page ads in national newspapers warning that the ‘food chain is breaking’.
But according to Coller: “The meat industry’s ‘food chain’ was breaking long before it took an ad in the Washington Post about it. COVID could be the straw that breaks the meat industry’s back.”