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The Washington Post reports that an acquisition of Hillshire Farms by Tyson Foods reflects a great deal of centralization in that industry: the top four US beef packers - Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Cargill, and National Beef - control between 75 and 80 percent of the US beef market, depending on who is doing the calculations. Fifty years ago, those four firms controlled about 25 percent.

The problem? The Post writes that "consumers are becoming increasingly more concerned with how their meat is produced. Part of that is born from a demand for more humane practices—the meat industry's malpractices are well documented—and part of that stems from a heightened awareness about what people are putting into their bodies—the meat industry has come under fire for both its questionable practices and potential for large-scale contamination. An ever-shrinking pool of options will only make it more difficult for consumers."
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