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we did a search for passages on our site and realised that more than 30 other scraper sites rank higher on wholesaling our content that we spend hours writing
From first hand experience, It's a symptom of sites affected by either Panda or Penguin (or both).
Some pages on a penguinized site can still rank very high for their main keywords, yet be outranked by scrapers on searches for quoted snippets of text. Exactly why this happens isn't clear. One possibility that has occurred to me is that it is some kind of accidental "bug" in the Penguin part of the algorithm, but I don't have any way to know for sure. In any case, it's strange behavior.