Private-equity funds went on a buying binge for food companies before
markets crashed in 2022. Now they have indigestion that is contributing to rising prices at the grocery checkout.
The funds snapped up a record 786 makers of food and beverages worth $32 billion in 2021, using bundles of debt to pay for their purchases, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The financiers projected that staple goods would keep making profits no matter how the economy fared. But that forecast changed, with the food industry soon hammered by higher labor costs, supply-chain disruptions and surging inflation.