You’ve never seen this company’s name on a package of ground beef or steak.
That’s because the world’s largest beef producer, JBS, doesn’t sell beef under its own name.
But U.S. consumers buy millions of pounds of JBS beef every year, under brand names like Cedar River Farms, Swift Black Angus, 5 Star Reserve and others, in stores like Costco, Walmart and Kroger, to name a few.
Consumers also unknowingly support JBS when they buy burgers at fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King, and at other restaurants supplied by the meat giant.
JBS supplies Sysco, the world’s largest food distributor, which supplies hundreds of restaurants, hospitals, government agencies, nursing homes, schools and hotels.
Sysco, in turn, wholesales JBS meat and other food products to Aramark and Sodexo, food distribution companies that also supply institutions like schools, hospitals, government agencies, prisons and more.
JBS is big. It's the biggest of the world’s Big Meat companies. And it has some big problems.
According to this July 2019 report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
“When it comes to scandals, you can take your pick — during its rapid rise to become the world’s biggest meatpacker, JBS and its network of subsidiaries have been linked to allegations of high-level corruption, modern-day “slave labour” practices, illegal deforestation, animal welfare violations and major hygiene breaches. In 2017 its holding company agreed to pay one of the biggest fines in global corporate history—$3.2bn—after admitting bribing hundreds of politicians. Yet the company’s products remain on supermarket shelves across the world, and its global dominance only looks set to grow further.”
This week, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported on yet another JBS scandal, a tale of “skinny cows” and fat lies that highlights the meat giant’s role in burning down the Amazon Rainforest, the “lungs of the planet.”
Given how far JBS’s tentacles reach, you may think it’s impossible to avoid supporting the company, no matter how corrupt, exploitative and destructive its practices.
But you can. By making it a point to find out where your steak and burgers come from. And by aligning your meat purchase with your values.