Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New book slams meat and poultry packers

Publisher Simon & Schuster is promoting a new book that slams the chicken and meat-packing industries, claiming the industry is a racket in control of a handful of large companies.

The National Chicken Council and American Meat Institute are fighting back saying it’s not true.

Author Christopher Leonard, whose book is titled The Meat Racket, says four dominant meat packers run an “industrial system that is rigged against all of us,” according to promotion from the publisher.

Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, said Leonard tells a one-sided story and the book “offers no solutions, no constructive criticism. It is just another hit piece.”

The American Meat Institute, noting Leonard’s focus on four companies that dominate livestock and poultry, said criticisms of the industry should be examined against the results. 

“His book makes clear his nostalgic vision for the U.S. meat and poultry industry: a vision pining for a return to an earlier part of the 20th century where meat companies secured their livestock at auction barns, buying stations and from farmers they knew.

“Although wrapped in a ‘good old days’ theme, such a system was less efficient and less precise in delivering products consumers wanted while forcing them to pay a higher potion of their income to obtain meat and poultry products,” AMI said.

Tyson Foods said it paid more than $15 billion last year to thousands of independent farmers who supply the company.

“We depend on them and want them to succeed. Some of them have been raising livestock and poultry for us for decades, and in some cases, for multiple generations,” Tyson said.

Tyson also said no single company is big enough to control the market and prices.