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FGCU economist weighs in on hacking of meat processor

Victor Claar says it’s possible it could affect prices
Posted at 5:30 AM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 05:30:39-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — We asked the Coordinator of FGCU’s Economics Department to weigh in on the cyber-attack on America’s biggest meat processor.

Here is a partial transcript of our conversation – edited for brevity and clarity.

WFTX: What do you think the bottom line is for consumers?

VICTOR CLAAR/COORDINATOR OF FGCU ECONOMICS PROGRAM: The bottom line for consumers is we're going to have another disruption. We thought we were over this with the Colonial Pipeline disruption - but that was regional. This was more of a national issue. Those processing plants that were affected - they supply 20% of both beef and pork to American consumers.

WFTX: When we had the Colonial pipeline problem, people rushed out and got gas even though they didn't really need to. Could something like this happen with meat products as well?

VICTOR CLAAR/COORDINATOR OF FGCU ECONOMICS PROGRAM: We didn't just see this with Colonial pipeline, we saw it at beginning of the pandemic with hand sanitizer and toilet paper. I think the good news is even though this is a large beef and pork supplier to the US, they only represent about 20 to 25%.

WFTX: Do you think it could affect pricing for consumers?

VICTOR CLAAR/COORDINATOR OF FGCU ECONOMICS PROGRAM: I think if you look at financial markets, it's already started to affect pricing a little bit - in terms of a value of a cow in futures markets and other commodity markets. So this may translate into higher prices. The good news is, when prices rise when there's a shortage, they actually encourage consumers to be a little more responsible and encourage them to think very seriously before they buy all the pork and all the beef they can fit in their deep freeze at home.