Industry Concentration Research Project

InstructionsThe Anthropology of Food Since it is important to know who produces what you eat and drink, your research project will focus on who does that and the impact that it has on your life and health. Each group will be assigned a food or beverage company and do some investigative journalism on how much of the food and beverage industry the company controls, how they got control of it, and how it affects what people eat and drink. While group members are encouraged to cooperate with each other, each person will produce their own paper. At a minimum, each paper should be 7-10 pages in length and include: • The percentage of the industry that your company controls • How they got control of it • A brief examination on how successful the company is (A timeline of stock price is a good indicator) • The labor policy of the company • The political influence of the company (as measured by political campaign contributions). • The overall environmental and health influence of the company. • Other information that you think is relevant. But remember that these companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars to protect their respective brands and influence policy makers and regulators. Consequently, you need to carefully evaluate claims that they make. Corporations today are primarily responsible to their stockholders and financial backers and this should not be surprising. But you must recognize that their primary goal is not to supply food; it is to ensure that their investors realize a rate of return on investments that is competitive with other companies. As noted in the syllabus, each group (A, B, C, D, E and F) will be assigned a company. Group Assigned E: Tyson Each is among the top 20 food companies in the world, all with gross receipts larger than the GDP of many countries and a labor force of hundreds of thousands people. We will devote the final two weeks of the semester to the research project and I’ll offer whatever help you need. You should begin by knowing the more concentrated an industry, the greater their ability to control prices and wages, and the greater their political influence. One recent study found that market concentration in the United States costs every family $300 a month over the price of comparable items in Europe where anti-trust (monopoly) regulations are stronger.

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