Last week the American Farm Bureau Federation said the average cost of this year’s turkey feast had jumped by 14 percent.
With consumers already facing record gas prices, Warren called on the Department of Justice to act on a 24 percent hike in turkey prices.
She called out four big producers – JBS Foods, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson – which she said controlled more than half the market.
‘Lack of competition in the poultry industry is allowing these massive companies to squeeze both American consumers and farmers to fuel record corporate profits and payouts to shareholders,’ she wrote in a letter to the DOJ.
‘When companies have monopoly power as massive suppliers, they can jack up prices of the goods they sell.
‘And when those same companies have complete or substantial market power as large employers or buyers of inputs, also known as monopsony power, they can suppress their own costs for those inputs, including workers’ wages.’
Sen Elizabeth Warren wrote to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation into anti-competitive practices by the poultry industry as turkey prices soar ahead of Thanksgiving
‘When companies have monopoly power as massive suppliers, they can jack up prices of the goods they sell,’ said Warren ahead of the holiday
Warren said the four big producers controlled more than half of the market and that turkey prices had risen by 24 percent during the past year, according to the American Farm Bureau
As many as 46 million turkeys will be eaten by Americans on Thursday (and the next few days in the form of leftovers), according to the The National Turkey Federation.
And there is little doubt they are more expensive than last year.
The Department of Agriculture’s Turkey Report says the come in at about 26 cents a pound more this year than 2020.
It all adds to the pressure that the Biden administration faces because of inflation.
The Department of Labor said consumer prices rose 6.2 percent from October 2020 to this year.
And on Tuesday, the president announced he was ordering the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve in an effort to bring down gas prices.
He also sought to reassure people that shelves would be stocked with festive fare.
‘Families can rest easy – grocery stores are well-stocked with turkey and everything else you need for Thanksgiving,’ he said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki also played down the idea that rising costs would get in the way of Thanksgiving celebrations.
‘There are an abundance of turkeys available,’ she said.
‘They’re about $1 more for a 20 pound bird, which is a huge bird if you’re feeding a very big family, and that’s something that again, we’ve been working to make sure people have more money in their pockets.’
The turkey industry says supply chain problems, coupled with high demand, are to blame for any price rises.
But Warren said lack of competition was at the root of the issue.
She pointed to Tyson which she said raised prices of chicken by 19 percent in the fourth quarter and planned to increase prices further to offset ‘inflationary costs,’ yet had given its chairman and its chief executive pay rises for three years in a row – with each earning about $11 million each.
‘Given the apparent connection between rising poultry prices for consumers and the history of anticompetitive practices in the poultry industry, I ask that you open a broad investigation into the impact of price-fixing, wage-fixing, and consolidation in the poultry industry on consumers and farmers,’ she said in her letter.