Written by: Amie Alexander, JD/MPS Candidate, William H. Bowen School of Law
Plaintiffs have filed a class-action complaint against major pork and meat packing companies alleging antitrust violations in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
Defendants include the following: Agri Stats, Inc.; Clemens Food Group, LLC; Hormel Foods Corporation; Indiana Packers Corporation; JBS USA; Seaboard Foods, LLC; Smithfield Foods, Inc.; Triumph Foods, LLC; and Tyson Foods, Inc. (collectively “defendants”). Plaintiffs claim that defendants entered into a conspiracy beginning in 2009 to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize the price of pork. According to plaintiffs, this was done by “coordinating their output and limiting production with the intent and expected result of increasing pork prices in the United States.”
Further, plaintiffs allege this was made possible through the use of Agri Stats, through which defendants “exchanged detailed, competitively sensitive, and closely guarded non-public information about prices, capacity, sales volume and demand.”
Plaintiffs argue that the data exchanged through Agri Stats is a price-fixing scheme, because (1) the data is current and forward looking, having “the greatest potential for generating anti-competitive effects,” (2) Agri Stats reports contain information specific to the pork producers, and (3) this information was not publicly available.
Plaintiffs claim the actions of defendants restricted and limited the supply of pork in the United States, engaging in an unlawful contract, combination, or conspiracy which unreasonably restrained trade or commerce in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Plaintiffs also claim these actions were in violation of various state laws. You can read the complaint in its entirety here.