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A Review of Causes for and Consequences of Economic Concentration in the U.S. Meatpacking Industry

  • Ward, Clement E.

Clear and continuing changes in the structure of the U.S. meatpacking industry have significantly increased economic concentration since the mid-1970s. Concentration levels are among the highest of any industry in the United States, and well above levels generally considered to elicit non-competitive behavior and result in adverse economic performance, thereby triggering antitrust investigations and subsequent regulatory actions. Many agricultural economists and others deem this development paradoxical. While several civil antitrust lawsuits have been filed against the largest meatpacking firms, there have been no major antitrust decisions against those firms and there have been no significant federal government antitrust cases brought against the largest meatpacking firms over the period coincident with the period of major structural changes. The structural changes in the U.S. meatpacking industry raise a number of questions. What is the nature of the changes and what economic factors caused them? What evidence is there that economic behavior has shifted from competitive to non-competitive? What evidence is there that structural and behavioral changes have resulted in adverse economic performance? This paper reviews the available data and information pertaining to these questions and provides some insight into the answers. Structural changes are reviewed, along with discussion of one major causal factor for the changes. Then, numerous studies conducted over the past twenty years are reviewed, i.e., studies carried out at different times with alternative approaches and varying levels of data aggregation.

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Article provided by Canadian Agricultural Economics Society in its journal CAFRI: Current Agriculture, Food and Resource Issues.

Volume (Year): (2002)
Issue (Month): 03 ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:ags:cafric:45696
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://caes.usask.ca/papers/cafri/index.php

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  1. Schroeter, John R., 1988. "Estimating the Degree of Market Power in the Beef Packing Industry," Staff General Research Papers 11114, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  2. Ward, Clement E., 1984. "An Empirical Study Of Competition In The Price Discovery Process For Slaughter Lambs," Western Journal of Agricultural Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 9(01), July.
  3. Azzeddine Azzam, 1996. "Testing the Monopsony-Inefficiency Incentive for Backward Integration," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 78(3), pages 585-590.
  4. Schroeter, John R. & Azzam, Azzeddine M. & Zhang, Mingxia, 2000. "Measuring Market Power in Bilateral Oligopoly: The Wholesale Market for Beef," Staff General Research Papers 1777, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. Richard J. Sexton, 2000. "Industrialization and Consolidation in the U.S. Food Sector: Implications for Competition and Welfare," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1087-1104.
  6. Clement E. Ward, 1993. "Comparative analysis of cattle slaughtering and fabricating costs," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(5), pages 441-451.
  7. Schroeter, John R. & Azzam, Azzeddine M., 1999. "Econometric Analysis of Fed Cattle Procurement in the Texas Panhandle," Staff General Research Papers 11365, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  8. Bruce W. Marion & Donghwan Kim, 1991. "Concentration change in selected food manufacturing industries: The influence of mergers vs. internal growth," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(5), pages 415-431.
  9. Ronald W. Ward & Thomas Stevens, 2000. "Pricing Linkages in the Supply Chain: The Case for Structural Adjustments in the Beef Industry," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1112-1122.
  10. Azzeddine Azzam, 1998. "Captive Supplies, Market Conduct, and the Open-Market Price," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(1), pages 76-83.
  11. Ward, Clement E. & Koontz, Stephen R. & Schroeder, Ted C., 1998. "Impacts From Captive Supplies On Fed Cattle Transaction Prices," Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Western Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 23(02), December.
  12. Clement E. Ward, 1990. "Meatpacking plant capacity and utilization: Implications for competition and pricing," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(1), pages 65-73.
  13. James M MacDonald & Michael E Ollinger, 2000. "Scale Economies and Consolidation in Hog Slaughter," Working Papers 00-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  14. Schroeter, John R. & Azzam, Azzeddine M., 1990. "Measuring Market Power in Multi-Product Oligopolies: The U.S. Meat Industry," Staff General Research Papers 11112, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  15. MacDonald, James M. & Ollinger, Michael & Nelson, Kenneth E. & Handy, Charles R., 2000. "Consolidation In U.S. Meatpacking," Agricultural Economics Reports 34021, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  16. Donald W. Anderson & Brian C. Murray & Jackqueline L. Teague & Richard C. Lindrooth, 1998. "Exit from the Meatpacking Industry: A Microdata Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 80(1), pages 96-106.
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