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Target and Cargill Locked in Antitrust Battle Over Beef Prices

 |  March 3, 2024

In a legal clash that has caught the attention of the nation, two corporate behemoths based in Minnesota – retail giant Target and commodities powerhouse Cargill – are embroiled in an escalating antitrust lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges price manipulation by the prominent quartet of beef producers in the United States.

Last week marked a significant development as Target joined forces with numerous plaintiffs, including Subway and Kroger’s, in an ongoing class-action lawsuit against Cargill, along with JBS, National Beef, and Tyson – collectively referred to as the “Big 4” in the beef industry. The lawsuit contends that these meatpacking giants engaged in a coordinated effort to decrease cattle slaughter volumes starting as early as 2015, persisting through the challenges posed by the pandemic. This alleged action purportedly led to inflated beef prices and substantial profits, as outlined in the federal lawsuit.

One particularly striking incident mentioned in the lawsuit involved a fire that ravaged a Tyson-owned beef plant in Kansas in 2019. Following this unfortunate event, competitors purportedly slowed down their production processes, according to the claims put forth in the lawsuit. Target’s lawsuit explicitly raised concerns over the “parallel and coordinated decrease in production” amidst significant supply constraints, deeming such actions inexplicable by legitimate reasons.

Read more: Meat Industry Giants Face Renewed Antitrust Lawsuits

Target’s legal action accuses the beef producers of violating the Sherman Antitrust Act, a federal law dating back 134 years, which aims to prevent monopolistic practices that stifle competition. However, Target has not specified a monetary amount in its lawsuit, and the company remained unavailable for comment when contacted regarding the matter.

In response to the allegations, the accused meat companies have vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Cargill, headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, issued a statement asserting the lack of merit in the claims brought against them. “The claims lack merit and we intend to vigorously defend our position,” the statement read, emphasizing Cargill’s commitment to maintaining market integrity and conducting business ethically.

This legal skirmish represents the latest chapter in a broader legal offensive against the most influential entities in the beef, pork, and poultry industries in the United States. Several companies have already opted for settlements amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in response to similar allegations.

Source: AOL