US beef acquisition off the cards

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Industrial agriculture, Beef

Brazil's JBS, the world's largest beef producer, has abandoned its efforts to acquire US meat company National Beef Packing Company.

US regulators had voiced concern over the potential acquisition and last October the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit to block the deal on competition grounds.

JBS became the third largest US beef producer in 2008 following the purchase of the beef operations of Smithfield Foods.

The Brazil heaquartered producer said it could not reach agreement with the US authorities over the terms of the National Beef deal, with the company claiming it decided not to go ahead with the purchase when the regulators insisted it sell two of its eight North American units to ensure it did not exceed the size of US food giants Tyson Foods and Cargill.

Last October, Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, said that the combination of JBS and National would likely lead to grocers, food service companies and ultimately American consumers paying higher prices for beef.

"It will also lessen the competition among packers in the purchase of cattle that has been critical to ensuring competitive prices to the nation’s thousands of producers, ranchers and feedlots," ​he added.

Industry members had also voiced opposition to the deal.

In a letter sent last year to the DOJ, 72 animal producer associations and agricultural, and consumer interest groups outlined their concerns about JBS’s purchase of National as well as Smithfield Foods' beef operations.

The letter envisaged that the acquisitions, in reducing the number of major US meat packers from five to three, would damage other players in the industry, harm innovation and competition and would also have adverse effects for consumers.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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