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December 3, 2020 5:30 PM, EST

Top Pork Producer Smithfield Makes Room in Freezers for Vaccine

The Smithfield Foods logo is displayed on boxes at the company's processing facility in Missouri.Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News

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Smithfield Foods Inc., the world’s biggest pork producer, is willing to share space in its ultra-low-temperature freezers to store COVID-19 vaccines, the company said Dec. 3 in an emailed statement.

Virginia-based Smithfield is ready to assist health agencies if storage capacity becomes constrained, said Keira Lombardo, chief administrative officer.

“We do expect that, working with our health agency partners, we can facilitate the rapid distribution of the vaccine to food and agricultural workers,” Lombardo said in the statement. “We stand ready as well to assist, as possible, with distribution to workers in other essential categories through our site-based health care facilities.”

RELATED: Smithfield Goes on Defensive Over COVID-19 Response

Even before vaccines started to become available, freezer space had been in short supply with economic disruptions caused by the pandemic prompting goods such as meat to be held in cold storage for longer. Some ultra-low freezers get as low -80 Celsius (-112 Fahrenheit), similar to the coldest temperatures in Antarctica.

Smithfield and some other food companies had to shut down plants earlier this year as thousands of meat-plant workers caught the virus.

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