The meat processing season could be up to 12 weeks longer than last year, due to multiple unexpected challenges. Meat companies have been dealing with disrupted supply chains, a worker shortage, Covid infections among staff, drought in Southland and Otago and now the shutdown of the Chinese city of Shanghai to contain a Covid outbreak. Silver Fern Farms Fern Farms chief supply chain officer Dan Boulton says Omicron has reduced its available processing capacity more than expected and that has been felt across both the North Island and South Island networks. Seven weeks into the outbreak, beef capacity across individual SFF plants has been between 60% and 81%, sheep 63% to 86% and venison 77% to 100%. Dan Boulton says priority is being given to farmers facing dry conditions with stock being trucked to plants that have spare capacity. Fewer added value cuts are being made to save time while more night shifts and Saturdays are being worked.