In this file:

 

·         US: This foreign meat company got U.S. tax money. Now it wants to conquer America.

… A dozen years ago, JBS did not own a single U.S. meat plant. Today, JBS and three other food companies control about 85 percent of beef production. JBS and Tyson Foods control about 40 percent of the poultry market. And JBS and three other companies control nearly 70 percent of the pork market… 

 

·         AU: JBS relaunches beef brand with added blockchain

Meat and food processing company JBS Australia has announced a paddock-to-primals traceability system for its King Island Beef brand as part of its relaunch.

 

 

 

This foreign meat company got U.S. tax money. Now it wants to conquer America.

 

By Kimberly Kindy, The Washington Post

November 5, 2019

 

Two men in cowboy hats stood behind President Trump in May as he announced a $16 billion agricultural bailout. Trump said the financial relief from his trade war with China would help American farmers, reinforcing an earlier tweet when the president said the funds would help “great Patriot Farmers.”

 

But not all beneficiaries of the taxpayer-funded program are American farmers or patriots. JBS, a Brazilian company that is the largest meat producer in the world, has received $78 million in government pork contracts funded with the bailout funds — more than any other U.S. pork producer.

 

JBS’s winning hand in securing a quarter of all of the pork bailout contracts is one example of the power a small number of multinational meat companies now hold in the United States. JBS has become a major player in the United States even as it faces price-fixing and other investigations from the federal government.

 

The company’s explosive growth through acquisitions over the past decade has been a dominant factor in the consolidation of the meat industry.

 

A dozen years ago, JBS did not own a single U.S. meat plant. Today, JBS and three other food companies control about 85 percent of beef production. JBS and Tyson Foods control about 40 percent of the poultry market. And JBS and three other companies control nearly 70 percent of the pork market.

 

JBS and the large multinational meat companies, including Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and Cargill, use their size and global presence to create efficiencies that enable them to produce a variety of quality foods at a lower price. But many agricultural economists and food marketing analysts say when so few companies control the market, they can drive smaller operators out of business, reducing competition and sometimes raising prices for consumers.

 

Such consolidation has been condemned by eight Democratic presidential candidates, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) being the most outspoken. She’s pledged to break up the larger food and meat companies because the companies can use their “economic power to spend unlimited sums of money electing and manipulating politicians” and because they are “leaving family farmers with fewer choices, thinner margins and less independence.”

 

The candidates have other concerns, including threats to the availability and affordability of the nation’s food supply. Large food companies have in the past reduced supply to drive up the price of their products. The Justice Department is investigating whether JBS and other poultry companies illegally coordinated to do just that.

 

JBS says it’s a vital part of the agricultural economy; the company employs more than 60,000 people in the United States and buys from more than 11,000 U.S. farmers and ranchers. The company and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue say the bailout funds JBS received are helping American farmers because the company buys its hogs from them.

 

JBS CEO Gilberto Tomazoni told analysts in August that JBS is “at the best moment in its history.” He said an upcoming stock offering in the United States will allow the company to continue to expand; JBS says expansion efforts “will better position the company to sustainably meet evolving customer and consumer expectations.”

 

However, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) recently challenged whether JBS’s entry into the U.S. market should have been allowed.

 

Corruption scandals have engulfed JBS in Brazil, the senators wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and company officials have “admitted criminal conduct to secure loans that were used for investment in the United States.” They’ve asked for a review of the purchases.

 

JBS said it received all “necessary regulatory approvals from the . . . antitrust authorities, including the Department of Justice” before purchasing each of the companies.

 

Small farmers and cattlemen are glad some politicians are listening. They say the federal government’s bailout — and JBS’s share of it — are reminiscent of the bank bailouts during the 2008 financial crisis. Even though many of the banks were under investigation by the federal government, they still received federal money.

 

“I think it’s one of those situations where it’s too big to fail,” said Greg Gunthorp, who runs his family hog farm in Indiana. “We are talking about a company that has shown it doesn’t play by the rules.”

 

Buying spree

 

JBS purchased its first U.S. meat plants in 2007, using Brazilian bank loans the owners secured illegally, court records show. In a plea deal, brothers Joesley and Wesley Batista told prosecutors how they bribed bank and government officials to receive low-interest loans.

 

The bank loans and other funding allowed JBS to consolidate five U.S. companies — which produced pork, poultry and beef — into a single company, JBS USA.

 

In 2007, JBS bought pork and beef producer Swift and Co. In 2008, it purchased the beef operations of Smithfield Foods. In 2009, it acquired poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride. In 2015, JBS bought Cargill’s pork division. And in 2017, the company purchased poultry producer GNP Co.

 

“JBS used their ill-gotten gains to dominate the meat market,” said Joe Maxwell, a fourth-generation hog farmer and executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, a nonprofit that fights income disparities in U.S. agricultural markets. The loans, Maxwell said, “allowed them to become the big dogs almost overnight.”

 

JBS said it did not refute the plea deal but said it also raised capital by selling company stock.

 

The bailout payments underscore JBS’s advantage over smaller, domestic competitors. Some of its pork plants kill more than 1,000 pigs an hour, enabling JBS to operate off a slimmer profit margin and underbid other companies for the bailout contracts.

 

JBS is also able to shift production to avoid high tariffs. While U.S. pork exported to China faces a 72 percent tariff, pork from JBS plants in Brazil faces only a 10 to 12 percent tariff.

 

JBS increased production where tariffs were lower, benefiting twice from the Chinese trade war — first by collecting the bailout money and then by increasing pork production at its plants outside the United States, which JBS announced this year.

 

JBS has grown and thrived despite multiple federal inquiries. The Agriculture Department said JBS underpaid family farmers and ranchers last year at three slaughterhouses in Colorado, Nebraska and Texas by claiming the cattle weighed less than they did. Domestic cattle owners say they lost millions of dollars.

 

USDA fined JBS $79,000.

 

Cattle producers said the fine was an insult to small ranchers. “That’s pennies to them,” said Steve Krajicek, an independent cattle producer who sells to JBS. “They make in excess of $1 million a day at the Nebraska plants. It’s not even enough for them to blink an eye or to reconsider how they are doing business.”

 

JBS’s growth has not been slowed by heftier fines for worker safety violations — about $20 million over the past decade, according to records from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

 

A Washington Post analysis of OSHA data from 2015 to 2018 shows that JBS has the highest rate of serious worker injuries — including those involving amputation and hospitalization — among meat companies in the United States, and the second highest rate of serious injuries among all companies in the United States.

 

JBS declined to comment on the $79,000 fine and its worker injury rates.

 

Consumer concerns …

 

more

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/this-foreign-meat-company-got-us-tax-money-now-it-wants-to-conquer-america/2019/11/04/854836ae-eae5-11e9-9306-47cb0324fd44_story.html

 

 

JBS relaunches beef brand with added blockchain

 

By Doris Prodanovic, Food & Drink Business (Australia) 

5 November 2019

 

Meat and food processing company JBS Australia has announced a paddock-to-primals traceability system for its King Island Beef brand as part of its relaunch.

 

With an increase in demand from both customers and end-users to understand where food has come from, the traceability system will link King Island Beef customers with the individual farmer that raised the livestock for the specific cut of beef.

 

JBS Southern COO Sam McConnell said the program will follow the paddock to plate journey and connect consumers with the producers of the beef.

 

“It has been 12 months in the making and will be part of a larger blockchain scheme being implemented by JBS that will enable individual primal cuts to be traced back to the producer,” McConnell said.

 

“We are very excited to implement the innovative system first at our Longford beef facility in Tasmania, where cattle supplied by our King Island producers are processed.

 

“As the system evolves, it will be rolled out at our Brooklyn plant in Melbourne.”

 

JBS has redesigned the King Island Beef packaging and has printed promotional material about the product, available in selected flagship restaurants around Australia, which have partnered with JBS.

 

 “In addition to the raising promises the brand makes, which are underpinned by our third-party verification process, the King Island Beef brand is all about where is comes from – King Island. Therefore, there is no more appropriate brand for us to launch this innovative traceability system with than this,” McConnell said...

 

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http://www.foodanddrinkbusiness.com.au/news/jbs-relaunches-beef-brand-with-added-blockchain