Know thy enemy: Smithfield’s porky expansion into Eastern Europe

Portrait of the corporation as sociopath: There’s some essential reading about the pork company we love to hate in the Times’ business section this morning (thanks Holly!). Facing increasing restrictions in the U.S. about odor control, manure management, and its vertical integration practices, Smithfield a few years ago took its North Carolina game plan to Poland and Romania. There, the company moved nimbly through weak economies and political and regulatory systems, rolling up millions in Euros’ worth of subsidies at the same time. In addition to the environmental impact, the effect on local farmers has been huge: in Romania, the number of hog farmers has declined 90% since 2003; Poland is down 56% since 1996. Other subsidies Smithfield has utilized have helped it export cheap pork scraps from Poland to Africa, where some hog farmers also are giving up because they cannot compete. (New York Times)

4 Responsesto “Know thy enemy: Smithfield’s porky expansion into Eastern Europe”

  1. Ed Bruske says:

    You wanted capitalism, you got it. Wonder how many palms they’ve greased with their hydrogenated pork lard along the way.

  2. Amanda Rose says:

    What’s interesting is that Polish pork always had a great reputation (that is back in the pre-1989 days). I haven’t been to Poland in a really long time so I can’t say what this has done to its reputation.

  3. I’m amazed. Europe, which is rather socialistic, seems to have a lot of controls and I would have thought that Smithfield wouldn’t make it there. My first thought to was what bribes were paid. It may be they also have the bureaucratic skills, the lawyers and such, to work through any hurdles.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I’m not in the least bit surprised. Just dismayed.

    But I’m also at a loss to know why Europe’s supposed “socialistic” bent is of any relevance whatsoever.