September 29, 2022
Smithfield Foods agrees to pay US$75 million in price-fixing settlement
Smithfield Foods has agreed to pay US$75 million to settle a consumer lawsuit that accused Smithfield foods and other major meat producers of price-fixing pork prices by restricting supply in the US$20 billion per year US pork sector, Reuters reported.
A preliminary settlement, which needs approval US District Judge John Tunheim, was submitted to the federal court in Minneapolis.
The settlement follows the judge's approval of a comparable US$20 million agreement between consumers and JBS SA, one of Smithfield's biggest competitors, on September 14.
According to settlement documents, the Smithfield, Virginia-based company, a division of WH Group Ltd, denied responsibility but reached a settlement to avoid the ambiguity, risk, and expense of a trial.
A number of businesses have been sued in Minneapolis and Chicago for allegedly raising the prices of beef and chicken.
Smithfield previously reached settlements in the pork litigation with so-called "direct" purchasers like Maplevale Farms totaling US$83 million and commercial purchasers, which includes restaurants, totaling US$42 million.
Agri Stats, Tyson Foods, and Hormel Foods are a few of the additional defendants.
Smithfield consented to offer the kind of assistance that, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys, will help them make their cases against the other defendants stronger.
In response to worries that some meat packers might set prices above market levels and contribute to inflationary pressures, the Biden administration has announced plans to increase competition in the meat industry.