Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch, on Proposed DOJ Settlement of Proposed Ardent Flour Joint Venture
Washington, D.C.—“Consumer and farmers were dealt a blow today when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the largest flour mill merger in history with the minimal requirement that only four mills be divested. This will do little to curb the market power of the Cargill-ConAgra-CHS mega-miller known as Ardent Mills. Food & Water Watch is disappointed that the DOJ did not block the proposed joint venture.
“The meager divestment required by the Justice Department still leaves the proposed Ardent joint venture with unassailable market control over flour sales in the Northeast, controlling five out of seven flour mills that serve the New York to Boston population corridor. Shedding just two mills, as required by the DOJ, in the Great Plains (one in Minnesota and one in Texas) will still allow the new firm to have a stranglehold over most wheat farmers from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River.
“Food & Water Watch had urged DOJ to reject this merger outright. But even before the deal was approved, other mergers were announced. This month, the Justice Department also approved a deal that joined Milner Milling, Pendleton Milling and Cereal Food Processors (CFP), a merger that made CFP sixty percent larger. The approval of both of these deals leaves the top four firms with nearly two-thirds of the flour market. The mega-millers control enough of the market to offer farmers less for their wheat and charge bakeries more for their flour, thereby increasing food prices for consumers. It is past time for the Justice Department to stand up to the ever-consolidating agribusiness and food monopolies and block these mega-mergers.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-2500, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.