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Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Economic Review
The new U.S. meat industry
Alan Barkema
Mark Drabenstott
Nancy Novack

A new meat industry is rapidly emerging in the United States, as food retailers, meat processors, and farms and ranches coalesce into fewer and larger businesses. The industry’s rapid consolidation in recent years has triggered alarms that the industry’s new giants in retailing and processing could drive up food prices for consumers and drive down livestock prices for producers. How should public policy respond to the industry’s consolidation? And how can all participants in the industry—producers, processors, retailers, and consumers—benefit from its new structure?> Barkema, Drabenstott, and Novack examine the striking changes in the meat industry. First, they describe how the industry is changing. Then they examine the forces driving the industry’s consolidation. Finally, they consider how consumers and industry participants are affected. While current evidence is scant that market power has hurt either consumers or producers, the industry’s rapid consolidation nevertheless warrants vigilance. At the same time, public policy might also play a role in ensuring that all participants in the market benefit from its new structure.

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Alan Barkema & Mark Drabenstott & Nancy Novack, "The new U.S. meat industry" , Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Economic Review, issue Q II, pages 33-56, 2001.
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Keywords: Meat industry and trade ; Animal industry
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