September 27, 2021

White House Blames Meat Packers for Increased Prices

White House Blames Meat Packers for Increased Prices

By: Sydney Sheffield

During a White House press briefing, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese shared the Administration’s concerns over the rising cost of meat products. Deese stated that four companies, JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, and National Beef Packing Company, control the market of meat supply, all of which broke profit records during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“There’s a long history of these giant meat processors making more and more, while families pay more at the grocery store and farmers and ranchers earn less for their products. Absent this corporate consolidation, prices would be lower for consumers and fairer for farmers and ranchers,” Deese stated

The Administration released several steps it will take to alleviate this issue:

  • Crackdown on illegal price-fixing, enforce antitrust laws and bring more transparency to the meat-processing industry

  • Provide relief to small businesses and workers hurt by COVID and create a more competitive food supply chain.

  • Get ahead of climate change-related disruptions by supporting farmers and ranchers from the effects of extreme weather.

  • Work with Congress to make cattle markets more transparent and fairer

Those in the meat industry were not satisfied with the Administration’s conclusion to rising prices. “As with almost every industry, meat and poultry packers and processors of all sizes have been, and continue to be, affected by the global pandemic and the inflationary trends that challenge the U.S. economy,” said Mark Dopp, Chief Operating Officer for the North American Meat Institute. “Issuing inflammatory statements that ignore the fundamentals of how supply and demand affects markets accomplishes nothing. Meat and poultry markets are competitive and dynamic with no one sector of the industry consistently dominating the market at the expense of another.”

Tyson Foods, one of the giants acknowledged during the briefing, released a statement denying the White House’s conclusions. “Multiple, unprecedented market shocks, including a global pandemic and severe weather conditions, led to an unexpected and drastic drop in meat processors’ abilities to operate at full capacity. This led to an oversupply of live cattle and an undersupply of beef, while demand for beef products was at an all-time high. So, as a result, the price for cattle fell, while the price for beef rose. Today, prices paid to cattle producers are rising.” 

Check out the full White House Briefing and the entire statement from Tyson Foods.