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Federal Judge Grants $7.4 Million Settlement in Pork Price-Fixing Case

 |  May 8, 2024

A federal judge has granted preliminary settlements totaling $7.4 million in a series of class action lawsuits accusing Hormel Foods Corp. of price-fixing by participating in a conspiracy to manipulate pork product prices, as reported by Bloomberg.

Judge John Tunheim of the US District Court for the District of Minnesota approved the settlements between Hormel and two plaintiff classes that include both direct purchasers of pork products and commercial and institutional indirect purchasers. These settlements mark a milestone for a legal saga that began in 2018, with accusations that major pork producers had colluded to restrict pork supplies, thus inflating consumer prices in violation of antitrust laws.

The lawsuits allege that dominant players in the pork industry, controlling a significant portion of the nation’s pork supply, conspired for years to manipulate prices. Central to these allegations is the purported use of data from Indiana-based Agri Stats, a company which the Department of Justice sued last fall over similar antitrust concerns.

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Despite the latest developments, the accused pork companies have strongly denied the allegations. However, several industry giants, including JBS, Tyson and Smithfield, have opted to settle, collectively paying out over $200 million to resolve the lawsuits against them, as detailed in Bloomberg’s report.

This latest actions underscore the complexity and scale of the legal challenges facing the pork industry. While the settlements represent a step towards resolution for some parties involved, the broader implications of these allegations continue to ripple through the agricultural sector.

Source: News Bloomberg Law