Sysco Is Suing These Major Meat Companies Over Prices

Consumers continue to pinch their pennies as inflation lingers, especially in the meat aisle at the grocery store. In a year-over-year comparison, the cost of meat, poultry, fish, and eggs leads other categories with a 14.2% increase (per Grocery Dive). Adding insult to our injured wallets, a recent lawsuit against major meat producers accuses them of fixing prices (via The Washington Post).

As folks make every attempt to work together in order to bring down prices wherever they can, Sysco, the largest food distributor in the U.S., brought a lawsuit against major meat producers, accusing them of working together to drive prices higher. The lawsuit alleges that JBS, Tyson Foods, National Beef, and Cargill limited the number of cattle being slaughtered in an effort to pay ranchers less and charge consumers more (per Grocery Dive).

Over 80% of the U.S. beef market is controlled by these four companies, making it easy for them to create false shortages and gouge customers with higher prices (per Grocery Dive). The meat industry cites supply chain issues and worker shortages as the root causes of increasing costs, but an anonymous witness involved in the lawsuit claims that there was indeed a conspiracy between the companies.

How meat producers control the industry

Meat producers have come under fire recently for allegedly conspiring to drive up beef prices in an economy suffering from high inflation while executives attained record-high earnings (per Food Dive). Sysco recently filed a lawsuit against the four major meat producers in the U.S. to address the ongoing price-fixing issue in the industry.

Sysco claims that the small number of meat producers were able to control prices by barring other producers from entering the industry, decreasing imports, limiting cattle supply, and conspiring in a concerted effort to increase demand in the market. Ground beef prices have jumped by 13.6% over the past year alone despite producers maintaining that they conduct honest pricing and business practices (per Food Dive).

Meat producer JBS recently settled a beef price-fixing lawsuit for $52.5 million, although the company never admitted guilt (per The Washington Post). In addition to President Biden calling out meat companies for their monopoly-like infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Justice will also investigate the lack of competition within the meat industry.