House committee presses meat processors on price increases

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on economic and consumer policy asked four major meat processors -- Tyson Foods, JBS Foods, National Beef and Seaboard – for information regarding rising prices and profits on beef, pork and chicken products.

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In a letter dated January 25, 2022, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on economic and consumer policy asked four major meat processors -- Tyson Foods, JBS Foods, National Beef and Seaboard – for information regarding rising prices and profits on beef, pork and chicken products.

Beef, pork and poultry prices rose by 19%, 15% and 10%, respectively, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, net profits margins for the four biggest meatpacking companies increased by 300% since January 2020.

The combination of price increases and profits suggest that the four companies – which control between 55-85% of all U.S. beef, pork and poultry markets – are choosing to increase profits at the expense of American families, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy claims.

“While some companies may claim that the high prices feeding these outsized profits are explained by higher input costs, earnings data tell a different story,” Krishnamoorthi wrote in a letter dated January 25, 2022.

“I am deeply concerned that meat processing conglomerates may have engaged in predatory business practices, at the expense of consumers, during the pandemic.”

In each letter, Krishnamoorthi requested documentation and information justifying their decisions to increase product prices despite rising prices, as well as any price increase-related federal and state investigations. The companies were each given a deadline of February 8, 2022 to respond.

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) released the following statement in regards to the request for information: "“Democrats at the House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy are taking their cues from the White House in an attempt to shift blame away from the President’s economic policies and onto hard working men and women in the private sector. Labor shortages, supply chain challenges, and record consumer demand are driving price increases for consumers.  Rather than addressing these challenges, the Subcommittee is seeking confidential business information about pricing between meat companies and their retail and foodservice customers.”

Rising meat prices has been a focus of the current white house administration. Earlier this month, President Biden unveiled a $1 billion plan to expand small processing capacity, stating that a lack of competition hurts consumers, producers and the economy.

Tyson Foods and JBS did not respond to a request for comment by WATTPoultry.com.

Headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, Tyson Foods, in addition to being a major pork producer, is the largest broiler producer and the fifth largest turkey producer in the United States.

JBS is a major beef producer in addition to the world’s largest poultry producer. 

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