Shareholders just approved the buyout of Smithfield Foods by Shuanghui International of China. More than 96% of shareholders voted in favor. Smithfield executives will make millions on the sale, and the company will become private, which means it doesn’t have to report details of its operations to the Security and Exchange Commission. Shuanghui is partially owned by Chinese businessmen and the U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs.
Food & Water Watch released a statement about this buyout. Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said, “the recent USDA decision to allow processed chicken imports from China, coupled with news of the Smithfield-Shaunghui merger approval by shareholders and a federal review commission, shows that U.S. regulators are paving the way for meat imported from China – a country with a terrible food safety record. Smithfield wants the public to believe this merger is just about exporting pork to China. And the USDA is trying to soothe consumers by promising that imported poultry products will be made from U.S.-origin birds. But it is only a matter of time until these initial conditions ease and we are importing meat and poultry from China.”
Food & Water Water reported in 2008 that Smithfield dominated the pork production and processing business in the United States and the world well before this buyout. In that report, they recommended that Congress ensure competition in the marketplace, enforce anti-trust laws, and that Smithfield’s factory farms be regulated. Smithfield brand names and products include Armour, Farmland, Butterball, Lykes, Cook’s Ham, Curly’s Foods, and Gwaitney.