Looking for a scapegoat for economy-wide inflation, the Biden administration has alleged that meat and poultry industry concentration is to blame for rising consumer prices. The truth is not so convenient.
Using USDA’s meat industry concentration data, the chart below demonstrates that, although the four-firm concentration in fed cattle beef packing has remained relatively constant since 1994, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for beef has been variable over that same period; sometimes above and sometimes below the overall CPI.
If concentration is causing the recent rise in consumer prices for meat and poultry products, then why did concentration not cause inflation five or ten years ago?
In fact, the December CPI showed prices for meat dropped slightly, yet concentration remained the same.