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Pork pressure.

This is how some local importers and distributors have described the decision by Smithfield Foods to idle its Sioux Falls, South Dakota, pork-processing facility.

Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork producer and is shuttering its US plant indefinitely after a coronavirus outbreak among employees.

The company has also warned that closures across the country are taking American meat supplies “perilously close to the edge” of shortfalls.

Since this country is a major importer of various meats including pork, this can lead to a shortage on the local market.

CEO of ADM Distributors, Balliram Maharaj explained that giants like Smithfield Foods will now have to sustain their own markets first before it can sell to other countries.

“There is going to be a serious shortage of a lot of demand items including imported meats like pork and imported pork products apart from the problem of panic buying,” Maharaj said.

He said all businesses operate with a “stock and order” system enabling suppliers to work with a proper plan for future stocks which can carry through even up to the end of the year.

“We maintain a certain quantity or a float because we don’t want to overstock or understock. The main suppliers we order from also use the same system because they don’t want to end up with 1,000 pieces of pork sides for instance and there is no market for it.

“And the buying patterns in Trinidad has changed so that the float for this month has been sold out. We now have to wait about 90 days for it to neutralise if it can in fact do so because suppliers have commitments to their respective markets first,” Maharaj said.

He said this means that imported pork and other meat products may not be available on the local market for a while.

Another importer who operates a gourmet shop but did not want to be identified said luxury items on the whole were becoming harder and harder to source.

He said since the onset of COVID-19 that particular market has not been very lucrative.

“We are barely making it to pay rent, salaries and now our range of imports are diminishing.

“Smithfield Foods is one of our major largest suppliers and with options shrinking globally we may not even have a business in the coming months. Things are very grim for us right now,” he added.