Studies of Meat and Poultry Industry Structure
"The beef and pork industries are quite complex and contain both spatial and temporal dimensions that can affect the level of competition."
The changes that have occurred in meat and poultry industry structure and in procurement practices have prompted concerns by some, translating into calls for government reviews and investigations to ensure that the industry is abiding by the antitrust laws. Dozens of such reviews have occurred and are linked below. Key studies are summarized here (pdf).
A recent, 2013 analysis of the totality of studies of meat packing structure by agricultural economist Michael Wohlgenant, Ph.D., of North Carolina State University had the following conclusion:
“Studies on market power in meatpacking indicate that concentration in procurement of livestock (cattle or hogs) has not adversely affected prices received by producers or prices paid by consumers. Indeed, there is evidence that producers may be better off because of lower processing costs due to the concentration and introduction of new technical innovations. Policies to restrict alternative marketing arrangements such as those proposed by GIPSA would make producers and consumers worse off. The beef and pork industries are quite complex and contain both spatial and temporal dimensions that can affect the level of competition. Fringe producers because of locational shift of industry and thin markets may be worse off. Establishment of niche enterprises may benefit these producers. In the future, incentives are to maintain steady long-run supplies of livestock to fully operate slaughtering and processing facilities.”