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Who Controls the Food Supply


REALITY CHECK

 

 

 
 

Contents

Who Controls the Food Supply

 

 


Our Food: Overview

Factory Farming: Overview

Animal Agriculture: Selected Bibliography

 

 

 

Enormous, multinational conglomerates dominate the food industry. Some examples of the leading companies are:

 

Tyson Foods, Inc.

Tyson Foods, Inc. reports annual revenue of over 24 billion dollars and has 120,000 employees at 300 facilities in 22 countries. Tyson is the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken and red-meat products as well as allied products such as tanned hides, and it describes itself as "the largest provider of protein products on the planet." In addition to its plants in the U.S., Ireland, China, and Russia, it has joint ventures in Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, the UK, and Venezuela. Tyson runs a vertically integrated chicken operation, controlling every aspect from the egg to the table. It has developed a network of breeder farms — 7,600 contract "grow-out" family farms that take the newly hatched and inoculated 3-day-old chicks to be grown to processing weight in 46 weeks. The date is actually determined by the production needs of the slaughterhouse, not the maturity of the animal. Of its 14 beef slaughterhouses and beef-processing plants, 8 also have tanning facilities. Independent livestock producers supply beef and pork. Its pork operations include genetic and nutritional research, breeding, some grow-out facilities, and pig finishing (slaughter through rendering), which produce fresh-boxed pork and case-ready products for the consumer market. Tyson also supplies meat-product manufacturers that do their own further processing. Inedible pork products are used to manufacture petfoods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and leather. Tyson Foods kills 6,000,000 chickens, 30,000 cattle, and 48,000 pigs every day.

  

Smithfield Foods, Inc.

Smithfield Foods, Inc. reports annual revenue of more than 8 billion dollars, 40,000 employees, and processing plants in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, and the UK. Smithfield is the world's largest hog producer and pork processor, operating over 30 pork-processing plants. In the U.S., it has a vertically integrated structure: it develops breeding stock, optimizes diets, processes feed, and builds confinement facilities for its pigs. It controls everything from its nursery to finishing to processed meat products. Over 70% of its market hogs are raised, from its own breeding stock, on incentive-based contract farms. Smithfield has 750,000 sows who produce 13 million hogs annually. In addition, it is the 5th largest beef producer in the U.S., with an annual output of 1.5 billion lbs. (560 million kg.) of fresh beef, supplying markets internationally from 5 beef-processing plants. A separate International Division business segment (handling pork as well as beef) operates 20 processing plants for numerous foreign markets. In 2013, Smithfield was purchased by China's largest meat producer. Smithfield Farms kills 80,300 pigs and 7,850 cattle every day.

 

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Swift & Company

Swift & Company is a privately held company with annual revenue of 8.5 billion dollars and more than 21,300 employees. It is one of the leading beef and pork processors in the world today. Organized into three business segments, Swift Beef, Swift Pork, and Swift Australia, the Company is the third-largest beef and pork processor in the U.S. and the largest beef processor in Australia. Swift owns 6 beef-processing plants, 3 pork-processing plants, 1 lamb-processing plant, and 1 variety-meat-processing plant in the U.S., and 4 beef feedlots and 4 beef-processing plants in Australia. It serves a global customer base with fresh pork and beef as well as consumer packaged products and animal byproducts. It supports food service, further processing, and international retail distribution channels. In the last 2 years, Swift expanded tremendously when it purchased controlling interest (54%) in most of ConAgra's live animal (beef, pork, lamb) operations.

 

Hormel Foods Corporation

Hormel Foods Corporation reports annual revenue of 4.2 billion dollars, 16,200 employees at 10 manufacturing plants; it operates more facilities at subsidiaries, and it also uses contract manufacturers. It is famous for its pork consumer packaged products, such as canned hams and delicatessen meats. Hormel operates sow breeding and growing facilities through Bell Farms, which is listed as one of the top 15 U.S. producers, and it has its own abattoir. It is the number one producer of whole and processed turkey in the U.S., with 4 hatcheries, 140 breeding and grower farms, 9 plants including slaughterhouses, and 8 feed mills. Altogether, Hormel produces more than a billion pounds of turkey annually. In addition to its huge market in the U.S., Hormel sells worldwide to Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Micronesia, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, and Israel.

 

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Sanderson Farms, Inc.

Sanderson Farms, Inc. reports annual revenue of 874 million dollars, 8,500 employees, and also contracts with over 600 independent growers. Sanderson, the largest of the top 6 poultry-only producers in the U.S., owns 5 hatcheries, 5 feed mills, 6 processing facilities, and an additional further-processing (after butchering) operation. They supply the U.S. market with over a billion pounds of poultry products, and, through their distribution network, ship products to the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Pacific Rim, and the Middle East. Sanderson Farms kills 5.5 million birds every week.

 

Cargill, Inc.

Cargill, Inc. reports annual revenue of 60 billion dollars, 98,000 employees in 61 countries (from Argentina to Zimbabwe), with diversified operations that include grain, cotton, sugar, steel, petroleum, and financial trading, futures brokering, feed and fertilizer production, as well as food processing (beef, pork, poultry). The Company is the largest private corporation in the U.S., 85% of which is still owned by the founding families. Cargill produces and distributes a wide range of fresh beef, pork, and poultry through more than a dozen major branded subsidiaries, such as Excel Meats and Honeysuckle White Poultry. Excel, for example, processes beef and pork for wholesalers and the retail market, as well as byproducts, variety meats, and hides at 7 beef processing plants, 2 pork operations, 4 beef and pork further processing facilities, and 5 showcase-ready factories.

 

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ConAgra Foods, Inc.

ConAgra Foods, Inc. reports annual revenue of 20 billion dollars and 63,000 employees, with sales all over the world. It is one of North America's largest packaged food companies, serving consumer grocery retailers, industrial resellers, the military, as well as restaurants and other foodservice establishments all over the world. ConAgra also manufactures and distributes basics like livestock, wheat, beans, potatoes, oilseeds, feed ingredients, natural gas, and crude oil to other food manufacturers, as well as pet and animal food suppliers. Historically, it has been a significant participant in both animal-based as well as plant-based products; however, it has divested majority ownership of all its animal operations, seeking expansion in the highest-profit areas of the food business, and it is now expanding its biotechnology activities. Yet it still retains a 45% stake in such behemoth animal-production companies as Smith & Company, profiting from the beef, pork, and chicken industries. ConAgra's range of consumer products includes well-known kosher (Hebrew National, Fleischmann's) and vegetarian labels (Lightlife).

 

Archer Daniels Midland Company

Archer Daniels Midland Company reports annual revenue of 30 billion dollars, 26,000 employees, and 270 plants on 6 continents. The Company has built a vertically integrated global franchise with sourcing, production, and transportation capabilities, and maintains leadership in plant-based agricultural processing, supplying commodity ingredients into a unified world marketplace. Core products include all basic and organic plant commodities like soy, wheat, oats, barley, corn, and cocoa, and basic derived ingredients like citric acid, sweeteners and baking ingredients, emulsifiers, stabilizers, flours, oils, and meat enhancers, along with critical products for construction, household items, industrial chemicals, mining, drilling, packaging, paints, inks, coatings, ethanol, plastics, and paper. Underpinning this vast, and dominant, conglomerate is an international network of financial subsidiaries providing services and support to customers in the agriculture industry, along with a global grain-trading group, and a large transportation business.

 

ADM is a critical enabler in the current trend of traditional animal-based food companies expanding into the whole foods (organic and vegetarian) market. For example, Dean Foods, a major dairy producer, now owns the Silk brand (organic soy milk), ConAgra, a partner with Swift & Company in beef, pork, and chicken businesses, now owns the Lightlife brand (vegan convenience foods), and Kraft, a producer of both dairy and meat processed consumer products, now owns the Boca brand (the original vegan veggie burger).

 

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