Giant pork producer JBS has agreed to pay $20 million to settle a lawsuit with consumers alleging they conspired with other meat companies to inflate the price of pork. While JBS admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, this is just the latest in a string of meat price fixing settlements for large meat producers.
How Did They Allegedly Fix Prices?
Large pork producers including Hormel, Tyson Foods and JBS control more than 70% of pork production nationwide. They use a data platform called Agri Stats to allegedly share confidential information about price, capacity and demand. This data could be used to limit the supply of hogs and inflate prices. There is an ongoing lawsuit against Hormel and Tyson Foods for price fixing, which JBS agreed to cooperate in as part of their settlement.
You can see in the chart below from the MidWest Center for Investigative Reporting when pork prices started to skyrocket and the alleged anticompetitive behavior began.
Other Price Fixing Settlements
In addition to the $20 million settlement referenced above, they previously agreed to pay restaurants and caterers $12.75 million for a different settlement. They also agreed to pay $52.5 million to settle a beef price fixing lawsuit.
Smithfield Foods paid $42 million to settle a lawsuit with restaurants and caterers and an additional $83 million with pork buyers in a different lawsuit. Smithfield admitted no wrongdoing in the settlements.
There is an ongoing lawsuit against Hormel and Tyson Foods for price fixing, which JBS agreed to cooperate in as part of their $20 million settlement. The Justice Department has also been looking into price fixing allegations since 2020.