Tyson Foods hikes prices despite WH profiteering allegation

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Tyson Foods, one of the biggest meat companies in the country, announced Monday that it’s raising prices across the board as costs continue to build throughout the economy and American shoppers bear the brunt of inflation.

The latest price hike comes months after White House officials slammed the four biggest companies in the meat industry, accusing them of “profiteering” and “raising prices while generating record profits during the pandemic.”

The Springdale, Arkansas-based company said Monday in discussing its fourth-quarter earnings that chicken prices are up 19 percent compared with last year, while beef prices are up almost 33 percent and pork prices, a whopping 38 percent.

“I can’t think of a single thing that has either stayed the same or gone down,” Donnie King, Tyson’s CEO, said Monday on a conference call with reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some Tyson chicken strips.
The company cited labor, transportation, and grain costs as the primary factors behind the price hikes.
AP

Rising costs of labor and transportations have forced the company to raise prices, executives said, while bad weather has driven up the price of grain, a key product in the raising of livestock.

The company has addressed the nationwide labor shortage by introducing new employee benefits like sick leave, but that adds costs, executives lamented.

The company expects to continue to hike prices into next year in order to make up for pinched profit margins.

“We expect to take continued pricing actions to ensure that any inflationary cost increases that our business incurs are passed along,” Stewart Glendinning, Tyson’s CFO, said.

“Our pricing has lagged inflation, but we expect to recover those cost increases during fiscal ’22.”

Tyson headquarters
Meat continues to be one of the industry’s hardest hit by the nation’s widespread inflation.
AP

Meat has been among the categories hardest hit by inflation, according to federal data.

The cost of a pound of boneless sirloin steak, for example, is up more than 30 percent from a year ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A pound of bacon is up almost 28 percent at the same time.

The increased prices helped Tyson beat Wall Street expecttions for its quarterly performance.

The company posted sales of $12.8 billion for the quarter, up 12 percent from a year earlier, while earnings more than doubled over that period to $1.36 billion.

Tyson stock rose more than 3 percent on the news Monday.

As Tyson raised prices, though, the White House has insisted in recent months that companies like Tyson aren’t raising prices to adjust for higher costs along the supply chain.

Some Tyson packaged meat products
Monday’s annoucement saw Tyson stock go up by 3 percent.
REUTERS

Instead, big companies in the industry are taking the higher prices and sitting on outsized profits.

“It raises a concern about pandemic profiteering, about companies that are driving price increases in a way that hurts consumers who are going to the grocery store,” White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said at a news briefing in September.

The administration went so far as to call the four largest meat firms, incuding Tyson, “middlemen” who use their “power to squeeze both consumers and farmers and ranchers,” Deese and two other White House aides wrote in a blog post.

Those four firms are Minnesota-based commodity trader Cargill, Tyson, Brazil-based meatpacker JBS and Missouri-based National Beef Packing Co., which is owned by Brazilian beef producer Marfrig Global Foods.

Together, those companies slaughtered about 85 percent of US grain-fattened cattle that are made into steaks, beef roasts and other cuts of meat in 2018, according to the most recent data available from the US Department of Agriculture.

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