Thursday, September 9, 2021

War of words over meat prices

Critics who complain that meat packers are price gouging got an answer from the North American Meat Institute this week explaining that costs have risen and there is competition in the marketplace.

Mark Dopp, chief operating officer for the North American Meat Institute, issued a statement saying “American consumers of most goods and services are seeing higher costs, largely due to a persistent and widespread labor shortage.”

The same day he issued the statement, Tyson announced a 21.6 per cent wage increase for beginning workers. Other packers have also voluntarily hiked their wages to attract and retain workers.

“The meat and poultry industry is no different. Issuing inflammatory statements that ignore the fundamentals of how supply and demand affects markets accomplishes nothing.” Dopp said.

“Meat and poultry markets are competitive and dynamic with no one sector of the industry consistently dominating the market at the expense of another,” he said.

But President Joe Biden’s officials laid the blame on concentration and lack of competition in the meat industry.

The Biden administration said it is ready to take "bold action" to enforce antitrust laws.

White House officials said the three meat items – beef, pork and chicken - were responsible for half of the total increase in the price of food consumed at home since December 2020. 

Four large companies control the majority of the market for those products and have raised prices while generating record profits during the pandemic, they said.


Major meat packers have reached multi-million-dollar out-of-court settlements to class-action lawsuits for pork, beef and chicken, claiming the companies conspired to rig prices to their collective advantage.