Thu, 23 Sep 2021

WASHINGTON D.C.: The White House is seeking to toughen its approach toward meat packaging firms, which it believes are responsible for steep price increases to consumers.

The four largest meat processors have a major sway in the processing industry in the United States, and Biden's chief assistants, in a blog publication on September 8, have held these firms accountable for the soaring costs of food.

In line with several planned steps, the government intends to channel $1.4 billion of relief to pandemic-impacted small-scale meat producing companies and their workforces, the aide said. Others in the administration have said measures will be taken to "crack down on illegal price fixing."

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated that four firms were engaged in the slaughter of beef, handling some 85 percent of grain-fed livestock in the United States.

The major players in the beef sector in the United States are Minnesota-headquartered Cargill; MNC Tyson Foods, engaged in chicken production; the largest meat firm in the United States, Brazilian company JBS SA, the largest meat packaging firm in the world, and National Beef Packing Company, owned by Brazil-based meat company Marfrig Global Foods SA.

Tyson Foods rejected the White House attributing the steep meat prices to consolidation in the industry. Tyson noted that the COVID-19 crisis, coupled with the inability to hire workers in the United States, had limited production.

"Tyson's scale allows it to operate efficiently, which keeps costs down for consumers," the firm noted.

Also responding was Mark Dopp, the North American Meat Institute's COO, noting, "Issuing inflammatory statements that ignore the fundamentals of how supply and demand affecting markets accomplish nothing," as reported by Reuters.

The top ten beef-producing states in the U.S. as per their cow populations are:

  • Texas (4,685,000 cows)
  • Oklahoma (2,189,000)
  • Missouri (2,035,000)
  • Nebraska (1,900,000)
  • South Dakota (1,799,000)
  • Kansas (1,477,000)
  • Montana (1,419,000)
  • Kentucky (983,000)

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