So, you thought you were getting a good deal on those bacon strips, juicy pork chop, or meat for those mouth-watering Carnitas tacos? We hate to burst your bubble, but you might have been hog-swagged!
A class action lawsuit that accused several pork producers of price-fixing has reached a $75 million settlement. The original lawsuit was filed by indirect purchasers of pork products, including Seaboard Foods and Triumph Foods, who claimed to have paid inflated prices due to alleged price fixing. The court granted the settlement final approval on April 11, 2023.
The lawsuit, known as "Pork Antitrust Litigation," was heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The plaintiffs alleged that the pork producers - JBS USA Food Company, Clemens Family, Hormel, Seaboard, Smithfield, Triumph, Tyson, and Agri Stats - had conspired to fix prices and maintain the set prices, to stabilize the cost of certain pork products from at least January 1, 2009.
According to the plaintiffs, these major pork meat processors, who collectively control more than 70% of pork production nationwide, worked cooperatively to limit the supply. Smithfield Foods, one of the accused pork manufacturers, has agreed to the $75 million settlement but did not admit any wrongdoing.
The settlement benefits consumers who indirectly purchased pork products from the list of companies between January 1, 2009, and April 2, 2021. The potential award varies, and there's no requirement for proof of purchase.
Companies involved in the pork class action are:
• JBS USA Food Company,
• JBS USA Food Company Holdings,
• Clemens Food Group, LLC,
• The Clemens Family Corporation,
• Hormel Foods Corporation,
• Seaboard Foods LLC,
• Smithfield Foods, Inc.,
• Triumph Foods, LLC,
• Tyson Foods, Inc.,
• Tyson Prepared Foods, Inc.,
• Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.,
• Agri Stats, Inc.
Notably, the pork lawsuit is one of many price-fixing lawsuits making their way through the courts. Canned tuna manufacturers and other meat producers have also been accused of inflating tuna, beef, and chicken prices, and few multimillion-dollar settlements have been announced in those cases.
Class members must submit a valid claim form by June 30, 2023 to receive settlement benefits. However, the amount individual consumers might receive is unclear, as money from other related class action settlements might be available to the fund before any payments are sent out.
This case represents a significant moment in antitrust litigation, highlighting the growing concerns about competition in the meat industry and the impact on prices. As the fallout from this case continues, it serves as a reminder of the importance of fair competition and transparency in all industries.
Please note while this blog post covers the major details of the settlement, additional details may emerge or change as the case progresses and as more settlements are potentially added to the fund. As such, it is always a good idea to keep up to date with the latest developments in the case.