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Abstract

The U.S. meat products industries have experienced increasing consolidation. It has been speculated that this has resulted from cost economies, perhaps associated with technical change or trade factors. It has also been asserted that increased concentration in these industries may be allowing the exploitation of market power in the input (livestock) and output (meat product) industries. These issues are addressed for the four digit SIC meat and poultry industries. Findings show that the beef and pork products industries tend to have similar structures, which differ from the poultry industries. None of the industries, however appear to have exhibited excessive market power, particularly when scale economies (diseconomies), and resulting reductions (increases) in marginal cost from output expansion, are taken into account. Also, technical change and trade (especially export market) trend impacts seem overall to have contributed to cost efficiency.

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