September 22, 2022


JBS to pay US$20 million for US pork price inflation lawsuit



JBS has agreed to pay US$20 million to settle a lawsuit with US consumers that accused the giant meat producer of conspiring with other meat companies to inflate the price of pork.


The latest meat-industry settlement will likely reinforce concerns that the White House, members of the US Congress and trade groups have raised about how the lack of competition in the industry affects prices.


A federal judge in Minnesota recently approved the settlement of the price-fixing lawsuit. But the judge also ruled that nearly US$7 million of the settlement will go to the plaintiffs' lawyers for their work in the case.


The pork lawsuit is one of several price-fixing lawsuits making their way through the courts. Meat producers have also been accused of inflating beef and chicken prices, and several multi-million-dollar settlements have been announced in those cases.


Previously, JBS agreed to pay restaurants and caterers US$12.75 million as part of a different settlement in this pork lawsuit, and Smithfield Foods agreed to pay two different groups of pork purchasers US$83 million and US$42 million in two different settlements in the case.


Despite the settlements, meat companies have defended their pricing practices.


Officials at the Brazilian company’s US headquarters in Greeley, Colorado, didn’t immediately respond to questions about the latest settlement, but JBS didn’t admit any wrongdoing as part of the deal.


The lead attorneys for the plaintiffs said it's not clear how much individual consumers who bought pork between 2009 and last year might receive, partly as money from additional settlements may be added to the fund before any payments are sent out.


The White House, several agricultural trade groups and a number of prominent members of Congress have all questioned the industry's pricing practices although the meat producers argue that supply and demand factors, not anti-competitive behavior, drive prices.


The Justice Department has been looking into allegations of price fixing in the industry at least since 2020, but it hasn’t provided updates on its investigation.


The Joe Biden administration has announced several efforts to increase competition in the meat industry to help reduce prices including a US$1 billion programme to help establish and expand independent slaughterhouses.


Additionally, the White House has tweaked administrative rules to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to report concerns or sue over anti-competitive behavior.

- ABC News

Video >

Follow Us