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Smithfield to Be Sold; Advocacy Groups React

SMITHFIELD, Va. — Chinese pork producer Shuanghui International Holdings Limited announced plans to acquire U.S. pork giant Smithfield Foods before the year’s end. Media reports say the deal is for approximately $4.7 billion.

"We do not anticipate any changes in how we do business operationally in the United States and throughout the world,” said C. Larry Pope, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield in a statement. “We will become part of an enterprise that shares our belief in global opportunities and our commitment to the highest standards of product safety and quality. With our shared expertise and leadership, we look forward to accelerating a global expansion strategy as part of Shuanghui."

Advocacy groups such as the Waterkeeper Alliance showed concern about the merger, citing concern over food safety, environmental issues and increased pork exports to China.


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“This deal with the Shuanghui — a company with a very recent history of producing tainted food — raises the specter that Americans will lose more control of their food supply, be exposed to tainted food and be left with even more devastated farming communities and drinking water supplies as a result of increased industrialized meat production,” Waterkeeper Alliance executive director Marc Yaggi and senior attorney Kelly Hunter Foster said in a statement.

Foster and Yaggi also argued that increasing exports to China will lead to more production in the US, leaving the country with more environmental pollution without the benefit of the pork supply.

Another advocacy group, the Food & Water Watch, voiced concern for the consolidation of the two large companies.

 “This merger tightens the grip of multinational agribusinesses and Wall Street on America’s kitchens, as Shuanghui is partially owned by U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director, Food & Water Watch.

“While it’s making business news headlines, U.S. consumers will likely not take notice of the change, but it will show up on their plates in the form of farmer exploitation, more factory farms and a more complicated supply chain that leaves consumers at higher risk of food contamination."

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