Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the anti-competitive practices of the poultry industry as turkey prices rise before the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday.
Warren, a former Democratic presidential nominee, suggested that consumers are paying higher prices for Turkey because of over-consolidation, price-fixing and “plain old corporate greed.” Poultry breasts prices have increased by 26% over the past year, according to Labor Department statistics.
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“Given the clear link between rising poultry prices for consumers and the history of competitive practices in the poultry industry, I urge you to open a broader investigation into the impact of price-fixing, wage-fixing and mobilization on consumers, and farmers,” Warren, D-Mass., Said in a statement.
According to the American Farm Bureau’s Annual Thanksgiving Dinner, the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving Feast is 14% higher than last year’s average Cost Survey. The cost of Turkey has increased almost 24% from last year because that is a big part. Meanwhile, according to Labor Department statistics, the price of chicken breasts has increased by 26% over the past year.
The industry is often blamed for supply-chain disruptions and rising prices for food, especially meat.
But Warren argued that the lack of competition has led to higher prices for different kinds of meat. The top four processing companies control 54% of the poultry market, up from 35% in 1986, according to the Biden administration.
“This reflects the dramatic consolidation of the industry over the last five decades, as larger conglomerates absorb more and more small processors,” The White House said Recently.
The Justice Department is already investigating price-fixing on some poultry producers; In October, the department accused five key players in the poultry industry – including Tyson Foods – of conspiring to create “massive, historic price increases.” Tyson and Purdue Foods previously settled a civil lawsuit by three plaintiffs, alleging that the companies were conspiring to keep artificially high prices.
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Warren asked the Justice Department to respond by Dec. 20 with a report on how pricing and consolidation have contributed to higher poultry prices.
The request comes as American consumers face steep prices over the years, with inflation at a 31-year high. The spike has been exacerbated by the rise in prices of meat and other proteins, up 12% over the previous year.