In recent weeks, several German slaughterhouses have been forced to shut down because a large proportion of their employees have been infected with the coronavirus, prompting authorities in several German states to test all employees at slaughterhouses and boning companies.
One of the companies that has had all the employees tested is Westcrown, a joint venture between Danish Crown and German Westfleisch. The company is located in Dissen in the North Rhine-Westphalia, which is one of the states that has chosen to test all slaughterhouse workers.
At the end of last week 280 Westcrown employees were tested and 90 employees were found to be infected with the coronavirus, leading to a suspension of production as well as a knock-on effect on Danish Crown. Between this and the Ascension Day bank holiday on Thursday 21 May, the business said it doesn't expect to slaughter this week and reported that it will be "significantly more behind with the slaughter of sows after Christ's ascension than expected, but the management of the slaughterhouse in Skærbæk is comforting".
“The closure means that we must try to find other customers for the animals slaughtered in Skærbæk. That's a bigger task, because normally Westcrown takes care of all the animals we slaughter in Denmark,” said Danish Crown Pork CEO Søren F. Eriksen.
“The most important thing right now is that Westcrown employees are taken care of. That task lies in the hands of the German management with support from both us at Danish Crown and people from our German partner Westfleisch.”
Eriksen added that Danish Crown is attempting to be more proactive with its coronavirus planning.
"At Danish Crown we have set up a task force working on various plans for the coming weeks. When so many employees are infected at Westcrown, it is excluded that they can produce as normal in the short term. Over the next few days we will get an overview of what opportunities we have for selling the sows we slaughter in Skærbæk, and on this basis we will make a plan for the slaughter next week."