Meat & Livestock News

Beef Packers Accused of Price-Fixing in New Lawsuit

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A recent lawsuit has been lodged against the four leading beef packers in the U.S., alleging them of manipulating prices over several years, as per documents from the federal court.

The lawsuit claims that from 1st January 2015 onwards, Cargill, JBS USA, Tyson Foods, and National Beef Packing Co. – who together oversee over 80% of the U.S. cattle supply – allegedly conspired to restrict the beef supply sold to buyers, leading to inflated prices.

The plaintiffs, a consortium of small food distributors, argue that this purported collusion persisted, adversely affecting their finances up to the close of 2021.

The legal document asserts, “Due to this, the plaintiffs were compelled to pay elevated prices for beef, more than what a competitive market would demand.” The lawsuit seeks redress under the Sherman Antitrust Act.

This recent legal challenge mirrors earlier cases against beef packers, which resulted in settlements amounting to several millions of dollars. Concurrently, both the Department of Justice and Congress have been examining their operations.

The present complaint has been registered at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which is also overseeing a similar case accusing the country’s primary chicken processors of price collusion.

To support their claims, the lawsuit references beef plant production figures, price variances, and insights from two internal witnesses familiar with inter-company agreements to coordinate production.

The distributors have expressed their desire for a jury-led trial, seeking an unspecified amount in damages and a lasting injunction.