Farm-to-wholesale price spread for choice beef began to widen in 2016

Line chart showing farm-to-wholesale price spread for choice beef from January 1980 to January 2022.

The meatpacking industry is highly concentrated, with large plants and few firms. Larger plants reduce processing costs and wholesale meat prices, but having fewer firms allows packers to reduce prices paid for livestock. Those tradeoffs—efficiency versus market power—have reemerged in policy debates.

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