Rising food prices are bedeviling the Biden administration, fueling consumers’ concerns about inflation and prompting the president to target the meatpacking industry.
American families are fretting over food prices, which rose 6.1% from November 2020 to November 2021, according to the latest Consumer Price Index data.
Biden’s disapproval rating reached a new high in a CNBC/Change Research poll released Tuesday, with 72% disapproving of his handling of the price of everyday items.
Biden accused the meat sector of “exploitation” and detailed plans to devote $1 billion to independent meat processors to boost competition.
The top four meat processors in beef, pork and poultry control 85%, 70% and 54% of their markets, respectively.
The price of meats, poultry, fish and eggs rose 12.8% in the latest CPI report.
The Biden administration’s action reflects a “tired approach” that “continues to ignore the No. 1 challenge to meat and poultry production: labor shortages,” Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the North American Meat Institute, said in a statement.
Analysts say many factors — including shipping slowdowns, supply chain problems and increased demand — are driving up prices.
“Almost none of it has to do with concentration and market power issues,” Purdue University agricultural economist Jayson Lusk told media. Yes, but: The Justice Department last year accused the broiler-chicken industry of "price fixing, bid rigging and other anticompetitive conduct" as part of an ongoing investigation.
“I can see why the administration wants to scrutinize” the industry, CFRA Research food sector analyst Arun Sundaram tells Axios. But "the fallacy is attributing rising meat prices to a single factor.”
Food inflation is expected to remain at elevated levels in the first half of 2022, fueling further frustration among consumers.
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