US: Judge dismisses antitrust suits against pork companies

On Thursday, August 8, a federal judge in Minneapolis dismissed antitrust lawsuits accusing several US pork companies of conspiring to limit supply in order to inflate prices and their own profits.

Chief Judge John Tunheim said the plaintiffs failed to show “parallel conduct” among the companies, whose combined US market share exceeds 80%. It was suggested the pork companies had conspired beginning in 2009 to fix prices, Reuters reports.

The defendants included Hormel Foods, the JBS USA unit of Brazil’s JBS, WH Group’s Smithfield Foods, and Tyson Foods, among others, as well as data provider Agri Stats. The defendants claimed the plaintiffs failed to allege any agreement to rig prices, and that supply and capacity actually increased during this time.

Tunheim’s decision covered 13 lawsuits from consumers, “direct” purchasers of pork and “indirect” purchasers, Reuters reports.

The plaintiffs claim the producers manipulated pork prices by publicly touting the need to cut production, thereby signaling to each other that the conspiracy was on, and by sharing price, capacity, sales, and demand data via Agri Stats, Reuters reports.

Full Content: Reuters

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