Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 17

or involved in today's industry, evidence of the
constant evolution and change that has made
meat and poultry processing's history a long
and winding road dotted with plenty of peaks
and valleys. Volatility has been a constant
challenge for the meat processing industry
as it has been for all segments of the food
supply chain. Factors ranging from weather
to labor issues to regulatory compliance to
economic instability to international relations
can have profound impacts on the degree
of business success or failure any segment
might experience.
Since Sosland's founding, the company
has expanded its portfolio of publications and
websites to include a wider swath of food and
beverage industries, including commercial and
retail baking, global grain, meat and poultry,
pet food, dairy and the supermarket perimeter.
Looking closer at some of the names and
companies that were prominent in the meat
industry from a century ago sheds light on
how the pieces complete the puzzle that is
today's industry.

GIMME' FIVE
When considering the iconic meat companies
and legendary leaders of a century ago, most
historians would agree the five most famous
names would include Philip Armour (Armour
and Co.), Gustavus Swift (Swift & Co.),
Thomas Wilson (Wilson & Co.) Edward Morris
(Morris & Co.) and Patrick Cudahy (Cudahy
Packing Co.).
Maureen Ogle literally wrote the book on
the history of the meat industry. Her book, " In
Meat We Trust, " published in 2013, documented
how the dominating influence of these and
other companies and icons for much of the
late 19th century was all but snuffed out in
the early 1920s. It was then that a US Federal
Trade Commission investigation concluded
that the vast majority of all livestock was
slaughtered by one of the " Big Five " firms.
The companies' stakeholders were forced
to surrender the control they previously had
over the transportation infrastructure they
relied on to achieve domination of the meat
industry for decades by agreeing to sign
the FTC's Meat Packers Consent Decree of
1920. This muted the integrated system of
stockyards (established in Chicago initially
and later in Kansas City, Texas and westward);

cold storage facilities; and the vast network
of strategically routed railroads serving the
country's population centers the companies
had relied on for many years of success. The
decree was a result of an antitrust investigation
ordered by then-President Woodrow Wilson.
Congress went on with the passage of the
Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, to prevent
consolidation and avert the threat posed by a
meat monopoly. That power of consolidation
was epitomized in the early 1900s by the " Beef
Trust, " also known as the National Packing
Co. that was formed in 1902 by Armour, Morris
and Swift and was broken up about 10 years
later. During its reign, the Beef Trust gobbled
up scores of stockyards and slaughtering
plants in the United States and grew its
fleet of refrigerated railcars to thousands in
route to controlling the lion's share of US
meat production.
When asked how the " Big Five " forged the
path for future meat companies and laid the
groundwork for today's dominant companies
and industry leaders, Ogle's answer is simple.
" They didn't, " she said.
That was because the consent decree and
the Packers and Stockyards Act reshuffled
the deck.
" Federal oversight was added to both
the stockyard operations and the packing
operations, " Ogle said. " All of those old
companies really took a serious
beating because in effect they had
to dismantle a huge part of their
corporate infrastructure and kind
of start over again. "
The situation was made more
challenging because World War I
had just ended and the United
States was reeling from almost a
half-decade of turmoil resulting
from a boomeranging transition
from peacetime to war and then
back to a focus on domestic
civilian life, all between 1914
and 1918.

All of those
old companies
really took a
serious beating
because in
effect they had
to dismantle
a huge part of
their corporate
infrastructure
and kind of
start over
again. "
- MAUREEN OGLE

NEW BLOOD
One post-war casualty that resulted was a
collapse of agriculture as demand for grain
diminished along with Americans' appetite
for beef. The 1920s was also the decade
when refrigerated trucks challenged railroad
www.meatpoultry.com | 04.21 | MEAT+ POULTRY

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Meat+Poultry - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meat+Poultry - April 2021

Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - vdg - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - vdg - 2
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 1
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 2
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Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - 4
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Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - Marel - 1
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Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - Marel - 3
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Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - Marel - 5
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - Marel - 6
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - Marel - 7
Meat+Poultry - April 2021 - Marel - 8
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/meatpoultry-april-2021
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/meatpoultry-march-2021
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2021_02_01
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http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2020_10_01
http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2020_09_01
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http://digital.meatpoultry.com/sosland/mp/2019_11_01
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