All You Can Eat: What JBS' Case Can Tell Us about Industrial Policy and Competition Law?

Arthur Sadami (University of São Paulo)


JBS presents a compelling example of a Brazilian local firm that, through heavy government-based investments, achieved global market presence, becoming the biggest meat packer in the world. Yet, this narrative is twofold. Alongside its thriving growth, a series of scandals since 2009 unveiled JBS’ far-reaching environmental damage, complicity in human rights violations and engagement in corruption – issues that were deeply rooted in its market power. This paper undertakes an exploration of how an exclusive reliance on the market dimensions of market power within industrial policy and competition law has yielded adverse outcomes in JBS’ case. The paper delves into the paradox that while JBS’ economic growth is undeniable, its ethical and social lapses have also been magnified. These failures underline the limitations of a narrow market-centric viewpoint. Moreover, this study advocates for an expansion of the narrative, urging an incorporation of intricate non-market dimensions. It asserts that a more comprehensive approach—one that accounts for the complex interplay of non-market constituencies —will offer a more insightful lens through which to view and address the complexities inherent in cases like JBS’.

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