Case Study: Monopoly Agriculture

Case Study: Monopoly Agriculture

Type: Campaign briefings
Date: 17 January 2024
Campaigns: Food

Our food system is in crisis. While most people in the world are experiencing a cost of living crisis, and small food producers are struggling, the barons of the food industry are enjoying bumper profits. There is a causal link here: the profits of giant and extremely powerful food corporations are deeply interwoven with the crisis for producers and consumers.

Recent figures suggest that well over 50% of recent price rises in the UK, US and Australia have been driven by increases in profits. A 2023 report from Oxfam states that “not only are companies passing increased input costs on to consumers, but they are also capitalising on the crisis, using it as a smokescreen to charge even higher prices.” Its research shows a huge increase in the wealth of food and energy billionaires, with 62 ‘food billionaires’ created between 2020 and2022.

In this period, billionaires in the food and energy sectors saw their combined fortunes increase by a billion dollars every two days. At the same time, 263 million people were at risk of being pushed into extreme poverty, with rises in the price of food a core driver. While our food system is succeeding at funnelling vast wealth into the banks of the super-rich, it is failing to provide the rest of the world with affordable, nutritious food.

These perverse outcomes are just one result of an industry that has become increasingly concentrated, with just a few large companies establishing monopolistic control over entire supply chains. What’s increasingly clear is that the behemoths that control the food industry are not earning their crust – they’re simply taking it – at whatever cost to people and planet.

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