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Structural Change in the Meat and Poultry Processing Industries

by 5m Editor
31 May 2005, at 12:00am

Structural Change in the Meat, Poultry, Dairy, and Grain Processing Industries - By Michael Ollinger, Sang V. Nguyen, Donald Blayney, Bill Chambers, and Ken Nelson, Economic Research service, USDA - Consolidation and structural changes in the food industry have had profound impacts on firms, employees, and communities in many parts of the United States. This report examines consolidation and structural change in meatpacking, meat processing, poultry slaughter and processing, cheese products, fluid milk, flour milling, corn milling, feed, and soybean processing.

Structural Change in the Meat, Poultry, Dairy, and Grain Processing Industries - By Michael Ollinger, Sang V. Nguyen, Donald Blayney, Bill Chambers, and Ken Nelson, Economic Research service, USDA - Consolidation and structural changes in the food industry have had profound impacts on firms, employees, and communities in many parts of the United States. This report examines consolidation and structural change in meatpacking, meat processing, poultry slaughter and processing, cheese products, fluid milk, flour milling, corn milling, feed, and soybean processing. USDA Economic Research Service

Abstract

Over 1972-92, eight important food industries underwent a structural transformation in which the number of plants declined by about one-third and the number of employees needed to staff the remaining plants dropped by more than 100,000 (20 percent). The number of plants in one other industry also dropped, but that industry added jobs. Economists generally attribute structural changes such as these to rising or falling demand and shifts in technology.

Plant size and output per employee rose sharply in all industries, and even industries with rapidly growing demand—such as soybean processing and poultry slaughter/processing—used fewer plants. These findings suggest that technological change was the major force driving structural change.

Summary

Consolidation and structural changes in the food industry have had profound impacts on firms, employees, and communities in many parts of the United States. In many cases, the emergence of new scale economies causes consolidation into larger plants and firms. When market demand is growing slowly, increased consolidation (larger plants and firms) can lead to increased concentration (fewer competitors). Such structural change can harm small-scale producers but may benefit consumers and society.

What Is the Issue?

Food processing industries have undergone a major transformation in recent years. Over 1972-92 (the most recent period of rapid consolidation for which data were available at the time this study began), the number of plants in eight important food industries—meatpacking, meat processing, cheese products, fluid milk, flour milling, corn milling, feed, and soybean processing—declined by about one-third and the number of workers declined by more than 100,000 (20 percent). Of the nine industries studied, only one—poultry slaughtering and processing—added workers, and that was due mainly to a shift from producing primarily whole birds to a variety of processed products like deboned poultry parts, poultry hot dogs, and turkey hams.

What Did the Project Find?

Economists generally believe that changes in technology and demand contribute to structural change. A new report by ERS, Structural Change in the Meat, Poultry, Dairy, and Grain Processing Industries, suggests that technology played the dominant role in the food processing industries. The nine food industries examined lost about 30 percent of their plants over 1972-92, while the average total value of shipments per plant rose by onethird to about $43 million in inflation-adjusted prices.

The drop in the number of plants, sharp rise in plant size, and a leveling or decline in the per capita consumption of red meat, fluid milk, and flour products led to a 50-percent increase in average four-firm concentration levels—to about 46 percent for all nine industries. Two industries— corn milling and soybean processing—had four-firm concentration ratios exceeding 70 percent, and two other industries—meatpacking and poultry slaughter and processing—had 50-percent increases in four-firm concentration ratios by 1992.

New plants have continued to enter food industries, but their survival rates are not encouraging. Half of all new plant entrants from 1972 to 1987 failed within 5 years, and two-thirds exited within 10 years. New plant entrants were typically about one-half the average industry plant size and about two-thirds the industry average size after 10 years, suggesting that entrants underestimate the size needed to compete in food manufacturing and must grow rapidly to attain a sufficient scale.

Labor productivity advanced substantially. Real output (measured by weight) per employee rose by an average of 78 percent over 1972-92 without accounting for quality changes (meat and poultry plants, for example, produced a greater mix of higher value products by 1992). Data for all nine industries also show that employment leveled off. But these data mask industry-level changes: the number of workers declined by about one-fourth in meatpacking and by about one-half in fluid milk, but rose more than 150 percent in poultry slaughter and processing.

This contraction in plants and workers decreased wages, especially for meatpacking and meat processing employees whose wages dropped by about one-third. Workers in other industries realized little change in real wages. Overall, average worker compensation, deflated by the consumer price index, fell 25 percent. This drop in wages, combined with the gain in output per worker, means that labor costs per unit of output dropped dramatically.

Although the associated cost reductions were likely passed along to consumers in the form of lower prices, the price impact was probably small because labor costs are only a small part of the cost of food processing. The type of plant that exits and the composition of the plants that remain in an industry are of vital interest to entrepreneurs assessing the viability of starting a plant and regulators seeking to understand industry dynamics.

About 50 percent of all plants that existed in 1972 and exited within 10 years had only about a 25-percent share of the market in 1972. In other words, they were small in 1972 and subsequently failed. By contrast, the 18 percent of the 1972 plants that exited over the subsequent 10-year period (1982-92) were more than twice as large in 1972 than the plants that exited earlier. A similar picture emerges for plants operating in 1992. Plant entrants over 1987-92 accounted for about one-fourth of all plants, but only about 10 percent of all market share. By contrast, plants operating since 1972 numbered about 40 percent of all plants and controlled about 60 percent of the market in 1992.

How Was the Project Conducted?

This report investigates structural changes among meat and poultry, dairy, and grain milling/oilseed processors. Within these three major food groups, we consider nine industries—meatpacking, meat processing, poultry slaughter and processing, cheese, fluid milk, flour, feeds, wet corn milling, and soybean processing—because of their dramatic structural changes and their importance to farmers who look to them as an outlet for their products, consumers who view them as providers of final products, and manufacturers who regard them as source of ingredients for food products or animal feed. The industries produce commodity products in cost-driven industries that require little advertising or research expenditures. Since the technology is exogenous, our discussion closely adheres to the traditional paradigm of market structure.

Introduction

Structural change in food processing over 1972-92 led to greater worker productivity and likely helped control price increases, but it came at the cost of lost jobs and plant shutdowns.1 Over 1972-92, the number of workers dropped by more than 100,000 (20 percent) and the number of plants declined by about one-third in eight food industries in the meat, dairy, and grain and oilseed processing sectors. One other industry, poultry slaughter and processing, realized a substantial increase in employment (120,000 workers). But even these added workers may not have increased U.S. employment as many of the added workers cut up poultry, eliminating the need to cut up poultry in grocery stores and at home.

Traditionally, economists such as Scherer (1980) have argued that structural changes as in these nine industries are determined by changes in demand and technology. All other things being equal, growth in demand leads to an increase in the number of operating firms, while a decline in demand leads to a contraction in the number of firms. Technological change, on the other hand, can either reduce or increase the number of firms. If technological change reduces production or administrative costs, then plant size likely would grow, the number of firms would drop, and the concentration ratio would rise. However, if technological change reduces barriers to entry, such as high transportation costs, then the number of firms that a market can profitably sustain may rise and concentration ratios drop since entrants have a lower threshold of output at which they can profitably produce.

Sutton (1991) recognized that fixed costs are sunk if they can be used for only one purpose and can be either exogenously or endogenously determined. Exogenous sunk costs include fixed investment for plant and equipment, while research and development and advertising are the most common types of endogenous sunk costs. Using this characterization, Sutton demonstrates that the number of firms that a market can sustain depends on—in addition to demand and technological change—whether fixed costs are exogenous or endogeneous, whether the product market is homogenous or differentiated, and the degree to which firms in an industry are willing to cut prices in order to maintain market share (price toughness).

If fixed costs are exogenous and markets are homogeneous, then concentration ratios increase with price toughness and drop as the ratio of market size to exogenous costs rises. For exogenously determined fixed costs and differentiated product markets, on the other hand, the lower bound for the number of firms in the industry increases as the market size rises. This possibility is akin to the traditional Hotelling model of differentiated products.

Sutton also argues that since increases in sunk costs—such as advertising and research and development—lead to increases in market and firm size, an increase in sunk costs results in a rise in the lower bound of industry concentration. Similarly, he shows that greater demand responsiveness to sunk costs leads to a higher lower bound of the concentration level.

In this report, we investigate structural changes among meat and poultry, dairy, and grain milling/oilseed processors. Within these three major food groups, we consider nine industries: meatpacking, meat processing, poultry slaughter and processing, cheese, fluid milk, flour, feeds, wet corn milling, and soybean processing. We focus on these nine industries because of their dramatic structural changes and their importance to farmers who look to them as an outlet for their products, consumers who view them as providers of final products, and manufacturers who regard them as sources of ingredients for food products or animal feed.

We examine the nine industries in the context of changing technological and demand conditions from 1972 to 1992. The industries produce commodity products that are cost driven and require little advertising or research expenditures. Since the technology is exogenously given, our discussion closely adheres to the traditional paradigm of market structure. We begin by outlining some major changes in the demand for meat and poultry, dairy, and grain and oilseed products since 1972, and then provide evidence of a shift in plant technologies. We conclude that changes in technology played the dominant role in structural change.

Changes in Demand: Meat and Poultry

Meat and poultry consumption changed very little over 1972-92, rising incrementally from about 168 pounds per person in 1972 to about 175 pounds in 1992 on a retail boneless-equivalent basis (table 1).2 This modest change in overall consumption obscures a dramatic shift in American food choices away from red meat toward poultry, providing a backdrop for changes occurring in the meat and poultry sector.

During the 1960s, large poultry slaughter plants adopted an integrated production system, enabling them to produce vast quantities of low-cost poultry products. At first, they produced mainly whole chickens, but beginning around 1967 chicken parts became more important. Cut-up parts provided consumers with convenience and allowed processors to garner higher profits by providing a higher valued product. Shortly thereafter, poultry plants began producing further processed products, such as packaged, sliced turkey breast; chicken hot dogs; and turkey bologna.

These marketing innovations and the adoption by poultry plants of an integrated production system provided consumers with low-cost, convenient alternatives to red meats. Refinements to the integrated production system and larger poultry plants filled with new high-speed processing equipment led to an increase in the relative price of a composite of choice beef to whole fryers on a per-pound basis from about 2 to 1 in 1963 to 5.8 to 1 in 1972. This ratio peaked at about 6.6 to 1 in 1987 and declined afterwards.

At the same time, concerns arose over reports of adverse health effects due to the overconsumption of red meats and other products high in saturated fats. The twin effects of lower relative prices and relative healthfulness led to a more than 70-percent increase in per capita poultry consumption over 1972-92 and a 15-percent decline in per capita red meat consumption (table 1).

Increased U.S. poultry consumption resulted in a problem for poultry firms: U.S. consumers preferred breasts and white meat to dark meat, yet chickens and turkeys still had two feet, two legs, and two thighs. Recognizing that Asian countries would pay higher prices for some chicken parts, such as chicken feet, and that consumers in many countries preferred dark to white meat, U.S. poultry plants dramatically increased exports. The combined pull of higher prices for some products in overseas markets and a low-cost production system that relied on vast economies of scale led to a sharp increase in poultry exports from less than 150 million pounds in 1972 to about 4.6 billion pounds by 1999 (Ollinger et al., 2000). Combined, these exports and rising domestic consumption led a 150-percent increase in liveweight poultry production over 1972-92.

The story was much different for red meats. Saddled with higher production costs per pound of output and a dearth of new, convenient products, U.S. red meat consumption stagnated. Beef consumption bore most of the brunt, dropping from 85.1 retail pounds per person in 1972 to about 66 pounds per person in 1992, where it remained through the 1990s. Meanwhile, pork consumption barely changed from around 52 pounds per person over 1971- 95 (MacDonald et al., 2000). Since exports scarcely changed for both beef and pork, growth could only come from population growth, permitting red meat production by carcass weight to rise by only 10 percent (table 1).

Even though per capita red meat consumption dropped, further processed meat products rose by about 10 percent per person. This increase, coupled with population growth, led to a 40-percent increase in processed meat production. Sausages and convenience food products posted substantial increases, while production of smoked and cured products, such as smoked hams and bacon, barely changed.

Consolidation and Structural: Changes

Changes in demand for meat and poultry, dairy, and grain and oilseed products, combined with technological change, have transformed food industry structures over 1972-92. Below, we outline those changes among meat and poultry, dairy products, and grain milling and oilseed processors. Companion reports examine the efficiency of one of the most controversial aspects of restructuring—mergers and acquisitions—and their impact on plant closures, employment, and wages.

Meat and Poultry Sector

Beef and pork have been important staples of the American diet since the Nation's founding. Poultry became a major component after World War II when entrepreneurs began to grow chickens on specialized farms and process them in highly automated factories.

The long history of the meatpacking and meat processing industries is matched by a long history of labor strife, accusations of anticompetitive behavior, and regulatory restrictions. Beginning in 1920, a consent agreement between the five largest meatpackers—Armour, Morris,Wilson Foods, John Morrel, and Swift and Co.—and the U.S. Government prevented the largest companies from owning public stockyards, stockyard railroads, market newspapers, and cold storage facilities. The agreement also denied the “Big Five” rights to engage in retail sales or use of their distribution channels for purposes other than distributing their own meat and dairy products.

The importance of the consent decree diminished after World War II as reductions in transportation costs shifted the locus of meatpacking operations away from terminal livestock markets to plants nearer livestock production. In this economic environment, new independent firms—such as Iowa Beef Processors (IBP), Spencer Beef, and Monfort of Colorado—grew rapidly by building new plants and acquiring others. As a result, the fourfirm concentration ratio fell into the 20-percent range and the long-term demise of many smaller and some larger high-cost or poorly located slaughter facilities began to take place.

As documented by MacDonald et al. (2000), decreased per capita consumption of meat products during the 1980s meant that growth in sales volume could occur only if one firm took market share from another. For firms competing in markets for semi-processed goods, such as meat packers and processors, this meant that plants had to compete on selling prices, putting pressure on their own wage and operating costs. This encouraged firms to employ larger plants with more sophisticated equipment designed to handle much greater throughput, but requiring nonstop production. In the process, highly competitive meatpacking and processing industries emerged. Previously, small meatpacking and processing plants competed against larger firms by paying sharply lower wages to their largely nonunion workforce.

In the new environment, large new competitors paying nonunion wages that were willing to shift production to lower cost regions in the Western Plains States rapidly took market share from large entrenched rivals and drove many large and small slaughter plants out of business. The net result was a complete displacement of the largest meatpacking and processing plants. By 1981, the firm that had long dominated the meatpacking business—Swift & Co.—was displaced by IBP as the leading seller. Still, Swift & Co., along with Wilson Foods and John Morrell, remained among the top five firms (table 6). However, pressure on the old-line processors to reduce costs remained intense. Wilson, for example, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1983, voided its labor agreements, and reopened with a new, lower base wage.

During the 1980s, general conglomerates, such as Greyhound and Occidental, which entered the business during the 1970s by purchasing Armour and IBP, respectively, sold out. Many of the large slaughter plants owned by the old big five were also closed or sold to new meatpackers, such as IBP, and mainline agribusinesses. ConAgra, for example, bought Monfort. Cargill bought the operations of MBPXL and Spencer Beef, renaming them EXCEL. These firms and Tyson, which recently acquired IBP, are now among the top firms in meatpacking.

Some old-line firms have remained in the meat business, but gave up slaughtering in order to concentrate on value-added and brand-name processed products with higher returns. New firms, on the other hand, concentrated on low-cost semi-processed products such as carcasses and boxed beef and pork. In many cases, they employed nonunion workers or forced a reduction in negotiated contracts through hard bargaining.

The old-line meat packers were not the only losers in the turmoil of the 1980s. Production workers experienced a significant decline in relative wages, with average rates dropping by about one-third, in constant dollar terms, from 1972 to 1992. Wages in other agricultural processing industries, on the other hand, remained steady (table 7). During the 1980s, the number of meatpacking plants dropped by 40 percent to about 1,400 in 1987. Meanwhile, technological changes led to a doubling in plant size and a 45-percent increase in output per worker (table 8).

The poultry side of the industry was also consolidating. Poultry leader Holly Farms was one of many acquisitions by Tyson Foods which increased its sales by a factor of 10 during the 1980s. Today, Tyson and ConAgra, another company with beef and pork operations, are also among the top four poultry firms. Tyson is the largest beef packer, second largest pork packer, and largest poultry firm.

The twin effects of contracting demand and technological change contributed to a doubling of the four-firm concentration ratio to 57 percent in meatpacking by 1997 (table 9). Four-firm concentration ratios are much higher in individual markets. MacDonald et al. (2000) report that four-firm concentration ratios for steer and heifer, boxed beef, and all cattle slaughter were 80 percent, 83 percent, and 70 percent in 1999. The four-firm concentration ratios for hogs and sheep/lambs were 54 percent and 62 percent.

Meat processing did not suffer the same kind of plant losses, probably because per capita consumption of further processed meat held steady and the more specialized nature of producing these products did not readily lend itself to the low-cost production methods used in the meatpacking industry.

As a consequence, the number of plants remained at around 1,300 throughout 1972-92, even though average plant size increased by about 20 percent. Labor productivity (table 8) barely changed, perhaps because of minimal changes in technology. With little push from either changes in product demand or technology, four-firm concentration ratios barely budged above 20 percent.

The poultry industry prospered at the expense of the red meat sector over 1972-92, as increases in per capita poultry consumption and poultry exports provided the means for industry growth. Although the number of plants declined by about 75, to 575 (table 8), the number of employees rose by more than 150 percent (table 7) and plant output nearly tripled (table 8).

Over 1972-92, poultry plants introduced numerous labor saving devices and dramatically improved labor productivity (Ollinger et al., 2000). Yet, pounds of poultry per employee (panel 3 of table 8) remained flat, as higher labor productivity in poultry slaughter was offset by an increase in the number of workers engaged in poultry cut-up and further processing (Ollinger et al., 2000).

Although four-firm concentration ratios rose in meatpacking and poultry slaughter and processing over 1972-92 (table 9), vertical and horizontal linkages among the three main industries have been weak and backward vertical relationships to input suppliers limited. Table 10 illustrates some of these linkages. The first row of the top panel shows that meatpacking firms (defined as a firm that owns at least one meatpacking plant) were very modestly forward integrated into further processing (owners of the 2,077 meatpacking plants owned only 74 meat processing plants in 1982) and backward integrated into feed (meat firms owned 108 plants).

A different picture emerges for poultry slaughter and processing. Firms in this industry owned more than 150 feed plants in the 1977-82 and 1982-87 census periods. This amounts to about a third of poultry slaughter and processing plants. (Ollinger et al. (2000) explain the efficiency reasons for backward integration into feeds for poultry suppliers.)

Firms owning poultry plants were also the most broadly diversified of the meat and poultry firms, owning about twice as many plants outside of poultry slaughter and processing than in it over 1982-87. Owners of meatpacking plants and meat processors, by contrast, owned less than 50 percent more plants outside of meatpacking than in it.

Although the meat and poultry sector consolidated over 1972-92, the meatpacking, meat processing, and poultry slaughter/processing industries remained vibrant industries. The top panels of table 11 trace plant closures for plants existing in 1972 (first column) over the subsequent 20 years (next 4 columns) and the bottom panel tracks their associated market shares. By 1992, each industry lost at least 60 percent of the plants that existed in 1972. Overall, about 75 percent of all plants that existed in 1972 were gone by 1992.

About one-third of the plants in the meatpacking, meat processing, and poultry industries departed by 1977, even though the number of meatpackers and meat processors rose and the number of poultry plants dropped modestly (table 7). Since plants exiting by 1977 had only about a 12-percent market share, they were on average quite small. Plants that exited later were slightly larger. Since relatively large plants started departing after 10 years, it may be that large plant technology started to become obsolete after about 10 years (small plant technology either could not compete or became obsolete after only 5 years).

New plants are a source of vitality in an industry and, even in consolidating industries, there will be some entrepreneurs that see profitable opportunities. Plant entry can come about through plant construction/startup or diversification from another line of business. New plants account for a sizeable share of all plants in each industry.

Table 12 traces the years of entry and the associated 1992 market share of all plants that existed in 1992 over the previous 20 years. Overall, new plants comprised about 28 percent of the plants that existed in 1992. New meatpacking and poultry plants accounted for more than one-third of plants in their industries. However, they were smaller than average, having only 11 and 16 percent of their industries' market shares. In meat processing, entrants comprised about one-fourth of the 1992 plants and had 17 percent of all output. Plants that existed in 1972 and remained in 1992 accounted for 25 to 40 percent of the 1992 plants (table 12) and controlled 37-64 percent of industry production, indicating that old plants are larger than average.

Tables 11 and 12 indicate that there are a large number of entrants, and these plants tend to be much smaller than existing plants. Table 13 describes the lifespan and size of plants entering the meat, dairy, and grain milling/oilseed industries over 1972-92.6 The initial entry in the top panel gives the number of entrants over the previous 5-year Census period. For example, the second row of the top panel shows the number of plants that entered between 1972 and 1977 (the first row of the top panel gives the number of non-entrants, or incumbents). The market share, average value of shipments per plant (plant size), and the plant size of entrants relative to incumbents are given in subsequent panels.

Over half of the 1972-77 entry plants (table 13, second column, second row of panel 1) went out of business by 1982, 69 percent were gone by 1987, and 77 percent exited by 1992. Exit rates were somewhat lower for other years of entry. For the meat and poultry sector alone (not shown), about 60 percent of the 1972-77 meatpacking entrants failed by 1982, while a little less than 50 percent of the meat processing and poultry plants exited by 1982. Trends were similar to those shown in table 13 for other years of entry, with meatpackers suffering higher exit rates and meat processing and poultry plants somewhat lower rates.

Plants entering the industry over 1972-77 were less than half the industry average plant size (table 13, first column, top row in panel four) but, by 1992, the cohort of 1977 plants exceeded the industry average size. This pattern of very small entry plant size and growth in subsequent periods also holds for the 1982 and 1987 plants. The only exception to these trends for meat and poultry was that meat processing plants entered their industry at about two-thirds the industry mean plant size and, perhaps for that reason, had lower new plant exit rates than other industries. Together, these data suggest that entry plants both had higher exit rates and were smaller than incumbent plants, further suggesting that size plays an important role in plant survival.

Growth in poultry sector employment more than compensated for a decline in meatpacking jobs. Overall employment in the nine industries jumped by about one-third over 1972-92 (table 7, panel 1). This increase obscures important industry dynamics, however, as meatpackers cut employment by about 25 percent while poultry slaughter/processing jobs more than doubled and meat processing employment rose by about 50 percent.

One might think that compensation would drop in industries under pressure to consolidate and increase in faster growing industries. However, this was not entirely the case. Meatpacking and meat processing compensation rates did drop—by about 33 percent—but poultry slaughter and processing compensation barely changed (table 7, panel 2). MacDonald et al. (2000) attribute the decline in meatpacker (and perhaps meat processor) compensation to a precipitous decline in the wages paid to workers employed by the largest meatpackers and processors. Meanwhile, poultry plants added low-skill workers to cut-up operations that converted whole-bird carcasses into parts and further processed products.

Structural Change in Summary

In this report, we proposed that technological and demand changes led to a major restructuring of nine of food processing's largest industries over 1972- 92. Our data show that technological change played the dominant role. Despite growth in aggregate demand across all of the nine industries, the number of plants dropped in each industry—even those that grew rapidly—as the average total value-of-shipments per plant rose by about one-third to $43 million. These combined changes led to an increase of about 50 percent in the four-firm concentration ratio to about 46 percent over all nine industries. Two industries—wet-corn milling and soybean processing—registered concentration ratios above 70 percent.

Labor productivity advanced substantially. Real output (measured by weight) per employee rose by an average of 78 percent over 1972-92 without accounting for quality changes (meat and poultry plants, for example, produced a greater mix of higher value products by 1992). Data for all nine industries also show that employment leveled off. But these data mask industry-level changes: the number of workers declined by about one-fourth in meatpacking and by about one-half in fluid milk, but rose more than 150 percent in poultry slaughter and processing. This contraction in plants and workers decreased wages, especially in meatpacking and meat processing, where wages dropped by about one-third.

Workers in other industries realized little change in real wages. Overall, average worker compensation, deflated by the consumer price index, fell 25 percent. This drop in wages combined with the gain in output per worker means that labor costs per unit of output dropped dramatically. Although the associated cost reductions were likely passed along to consumers in the form of lower prices, the price impact was probably small because labor costs are only a small part of the cost of food processing.

The type of plant that exits and the composition of the plants that remain in an industry are of vital interest to entrepreneurs assessing the viability of starting a plant and regulators seeking to understand industry dynamics. About 50 percent of all plants that existed in 1972 and exited within 10 years had only about a 25-percent share of the market in 1972. In other words, they were small in 1972 and subsequently failed. By contrast, the 18 percent of the 1972 plants that exited over the subsequent 10-year period (1982-92) were more than twice as large in 1972 as the plants that exited earlier.

A similar picture emerges for plants existing in 1992. Plant entrants over 1987-92 accounted for about one-fourth of all plants, but only about 10 percent of all market share. By contrast, plants existing since 1972 numbered about 40 percent of all plants and controlled about 60 percent of the market in 1992. Moreover, about half of all plant entrants failed within 5 years and twothirds exited within 10 years. The new plants were typically about one-half the average industry plant size and about two-thirds the industry average size after 10 years. Taken together, data tracing 1972 and 1992 plants over the 1972-92 period show that small plants tended to fail first and that new plants typically were much smaller than the industry mean.

Acknowledgments

The research reported herein was performed when the authors were research associates at the Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Bureau of the Census. The authors thank Sanjib Bhuyan, David Davis, Elise Golan, Michael LeBlanc, Jeff Royer, and Arnold Reznek for comments on earlier drafts. The views expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect the views of either the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service - March 2005