The National Economic Council (NEC) in the US, which advises the president on economic affairs, used a blog in the White House briefing room this week to call out meat factories for profiteering.
It explains that meat prices are responsible for a quarter of the food price increase in November’s Consumer Price Index.
It goes on to blame the four big meat processors (Tyson, JBS, Marfrig and Seaboard) for “corporate decisions to take advantage of their market power in an uncompetitive market, to the detriment of consumers, farmers and ranchers, and our economy.”
The NEC base this claim on the fact that the aggregated operating profits of these companies have increased by 120% since before the pandemic and their net profits have increased by 500%.
The US administration has announced its intention “to crack down on illegal price fixing and enforce antitrust laws robustly”.
It has also committed $100m (€88.5m) in the American Rescue plan to leverage $1bn (€885m) of lending capital that will fund expansion of meat processing capacity and support other food supply chain infrastructure.
This is in addition to the $500m (€442.5m) announced in July to expand processing capacity and increase competition for farmers.
The North American Meat Institute, which represents factories in the US, rejected the analysis, suggesting the NEC was being “not very economic”.
It accused the council of attempting to blame meat companies for inflation that is applicable across the entire economy, and cherry picking data.