The watchdog group Accountable.US released a report this month blaming the multimillion-dollar fines that the meat processing industry has paid for the rising cost of meat.


According to a review conducted by Accountable.US, the largest meat processing companies in the U.S. have recently agreed to millions in fines to settle price-fixing allegations.

“When meat packer CEOs are still living high on the hog after agreeing to pay $400 million in fines and settlements for manipulating prices in recent years, consumers know who to really blame for ridiculous meat prices,” Kyle Herrig, President of Accountable.US, said in a statement to NBC News.

Accountable.US also criticized the high salaries that the CEOs of the meat processing companies made within the past few years, pointing to how the average hourly wage for a meatpacker in the U.S. was $15.

When reached for comment, a representative from Smithfield Foods said the company had denied any wrongdoing when settling the litigation cited by Accountable.US. The representative pointed to factors such as the rising cost of corn and soybean as well as the heightened cost in ensuring worker safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.