Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

People shopping in the egg and dairy case on March 13, 2020 at Whole Foods Merket in Vauxhall, New Jersey. (Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

People shopping in the egg and dairy case on March 13, 2020 at Whole Foods Market in Vauxhall, New Jersey. (Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Corporate Greed the 'Real Culprit Behind Rising Prices,' Researchers Say

"The more sway mega-corporations have over our economy, the more power they have to gouge customers, squeeze Main Street, and exploit workers."

Kenny Stancil

Amid mounting data showing that people are paying more for food at grocery stores around the United States, a new analysis out Wednesday reveals how corporate power is "the real culprit behind rising prices at the checkout line."

"Addressing this crisis means recognizing these price increases for what they are: the result of deeply entrenched concentrated corporate power."

After the U.S. Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index increased by 0.4% in September, researchers at the Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive think tank, explained the connections between "price hikes, monopoly, and corporate greed."

"The more sway mega-corporations have over our economy, the more power they have to gouge customers, squeeze Main Street, and exploit workers," Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, said in a statement.

Since September 2020, food prices overall have increased by 4.6%, with the price of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs surging the most over the past 12 months, at 10.5%

The higher inflation rate in those industries, researchers noted, can be attributed to decades of consolidation, which has given a handful of corporations an ever-greater degree of market control and with it, the power to set prices.

According to the Groundwork Collaborative:

Just four meat processing conglomerates control more than 80% of the beef industry and more than 60% of the pork industry. This enables them to dictate prices that both flatten returns for farmers and ranchers and inflate prices for consumers at the meat counter. As a result, consumers have seen a 12% increase in the cost of beef and a nearly 10% increase in the cost of pork over the last year. Meanwhile, the four major meat processors doled out billions of dollars to their shareholders in dividends and bought back millions of dollars of their own stocks.

The price of eggs, meanwhile, has risen 9.9% since August 2020.

"State governments, including MinnesotaTexasCalifornia, and New York have sued egg producers and distributors for illegally raising the price of eggs during the pandemic," the Groundwork Collaborative pointed out. "As one lawsuit put it, jacking up egg prices is allowing these companies, including some of the largest producers and wholesale distributors of eggs, to 'profit from the misery of millions.'"

The Groundwork Collaborative also spotlighted how Kroger grocery stores have charged customers more and simultaneously suppressed wages amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Researchers explained:

Kroger, a grocery mega-chain, spent the summer of 2021 gloating that "a little bit of inflation is always good in our business" before citing inflation to justify price hikes. Kroger publicly acknowledged that they could get away with increasing prices on consumers as long as prices didn't rise by more than 3 or 4%.

Charging consumers more for supermarket staples has lined the pockets of Kroger executives and shareholders, even as median worker pay decreased by 8% in 2020. That same year, the Kroger CEO earned 909 times what the median worker earned

While the company was publicly calling their workers heroes, they were simultaneously cutting essential hazard pay for employees during a global pandemic. Meanwhile, the company spent $1.498 billion on stock buybacks between April 2020 and July 2021 to enrich its shareholders.

"Addressing this crisis," said Mabud, "means recognizing these price increases for what they are: the result of deeply entrenched concentrated corporate power that has systematically stripped down supply chains and created room for pandemic profiteers as well as longstanding underinvestment in our economy."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Research Reveals How PR Firms Have Spent Decades Fueling Climate Misinformation

"The best time to stop working for fossil fuel clients was 20 years ago, when we had much more time to stop the climate emergency. The second best time is now."

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Decry US Gun Control Failures After 'Truly Sickening' Michigan School Shooting

"A 15-year-old shooter may have picked up the weapon, but Congress—through its inaction on gun violence—may as well have handed it to him."

Brett Wilkins ·


New Climate Study Predicting More Rain Than Snow in the Arctic 'Rings Alarm Bells'

"There are huge ramifications of these changes," said the lead researcher, "all of which have implications on wildlife populations and human livelihoods."

Jessica Corbett ·


Durbin Introduces Amendment to End 'Legacy of Cruelty' by Closing Guantánamo

"It's time at long last to face reality and... close the detention facility at Guantánamo. Let's put this dark chapter behind us once and for all."

Brett Wilkins ·


With SCOTUS Set to Hear Abortion Case, Anti-Choice Groups Prepare to Enact 'Post-Roe Strategy'

Right-wing groups are lobbying lawmakers to pass state-level restrictions and ban sales of abortion pills, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo