In the News
The Meat Racket
The book The Meat Racket misleads people about our business, which provides opportunities for farmers to prosper and enables consumers to buy safe, affordable food.
Our company is one of the leading supporters of American farmers, paying more than $15 billion last year alone to independent farmers who supply us with cattle, hogs and chickens. We depend on more than 11,000 independent farmers and we want and need them to succeed. Some of them have been successfully raising livestock or poultry for us for decades, and in some cases, for multiple generations.
Our business is structured to meet the needs of our customers. We sell our products to retail and food service companies; however, we don’t set consumer prices. No one company is big enough to control the market, especially in today’s global food environment. U.S. consumers still spend a smaller percentage of their total income on food than consumers in most other countries.
Meat production is already one of the most heavily-regulated industries in the country, with laws covering such important areas as food and worker safety, livestock price reporting and product labeling, as well as rules governing our business relationship with the farmers who supply us. But for us, it is not just about regulations; it's about people trying to do the right thing in every aspect of what we do, including how we work with farmers.
The Real Story
“There is so little competition in the meat industry today that companies like Tyson can virtually raise the price of meat at will.” (Page 3)
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The Real Story:
We sell to retail and foodservice customers and do not set consumer prices. We work hard to produce our products efficiently, so they remain affordable. In addition, Tyson Foods competes against many other U.S. companies as well as food companies in other parts of the world. For example, according to the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association there are almost 40 U.S. broiler companies. As noted by Dr. Gordon Rausser, agricultural economics professor at the University of California-Berkley, “historical consolidation in pork, beef and cattle sectors is explained by the efficiencies it generates: efficiencies that have benefitted American consumers. These benefits are thoroughly recorded in the academic literature, including numerous studies that find minimal, if any, market power on the part of packers and processors.”
Questions & Answers
What’s your reaction to the book’s criticism of your company?
It’s disappointing the author has chosen to paint such a misleading picture of our company. We’ve been in business a long time and believe our company is effectively built to give farmers opportunities to prosper and enable us to produce safe, affordable food for people.
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About Contract Poultry Farming
We need all of our contract farmers and want them to operate successfully.
Tyson supplies birds, feed and technical advice, while the poultry grower provides the labor, housing and utilities. This means the grower is insulated from the risk of changing market prices for chicken and feed ingredients such as corn and soybean meal, which represented 69% of the cost of growing a chicken in 2012. In other words, growers are ensured of a stable compensation for their efforts, no matter what the feed or grocery markets are doing.
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