As food costs have skyrocketed for Americans, some of the country’s biggest chains and grocery brands, including General Mills, PepsiCo, and Tyson, have blamed the price hikes on supply chain issues and economywide inflation. But behind the scenes, these companies have expanded profits and quietly authorized billions of dollars in lucrative stock buyback programs and dividend payouts to shareholders.

Americans paid roughly 25 percent more on groceries and dining out this March than they paid in January 2020, outpacing the rate of general inflation. Over that same period, the companies behind the country’s 10 largest grocery and restaurant brands have together returned or pledged to return more than $77 billion to shareholders.