Meatpacking Companies Fixed the Price of Beef, Antitrust Lawsuit Says
Last Updated on July 3, 2019
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
At A Glance
- This Investigation Affects:
- Any food distributor or other entity that purchases beef from one of the companies named below.
- What’s Going On?
- An antitrust class action lawsuit has been filed alleging that some of the largest meatpacking companies illegally conspired to raise the price of beef.
- What’s It Mean for Me?
- Food distributors may have overpaid for their meat as a result of the alleged conspiracy.
- What Companies Are Under Investigation?
- Tyson Foods, Inc.; Cargill Inc; JBS USA; National Beef; and Swift Beef.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. If you have any questions about your legal rights, contact an attorney in your area. The information below is for reference only.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak with any food distributor or other entity that purchased beef from the following companies between January 1, 2015 to the present:
- Tyson Foods, Inc.
- Cargill Inc.
- JBS USA Food Company Holdings
- National Beef Packing Company
- Swift Beef
Allegations have surfaced that some of these companies worked together to artificially inflate the price of beef.
While a class action lawsuit has already been filed for consumers, attorneys are looking to get a case started on behalf of food distributors and other entities that purchase fresh or frozen beef from these meatpacking companies.
It’s possible that these food distributors overpaid for their meat and may be able to get some money back.
Note: At this time, attorneys are not looking to hear from people who purchased beef for their own consumption. A suit has already been filed on their behalf.
What’s Going On?
The class action filed against Tyson, Cargill, JBS, and National Beef Company, who collectively own 70 percent of the wholesale beef market, alleges the companies entered into a conspiracy to reduce the supply of beef in an attempt to increase their bottom lines.
Specifically, the companies allegedly schemed together to artificially depress both the amount of cattle they purchased, as well as the amount of the processed beef they sold, thereby raising prices for those who purchase beef directly.
Suit Says Meatpacking Companies “Work Like the Mafia”
The lawsuit claims that “meat works like the mafia” and that executives at the major meatpacking companies “all know each other.” The result of these close relationships, the suit implies, was a conspiracy between the defendants since at least 2015 to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the price of beef.
The main way the companies did this, the suit says, was by colluding to depress the price, and therefore future supply, of cattle that they purchased while continuing to maintain an elevated sale price.
Proof of a Conspiracy?
In a functioning market, lower cattle prices would mean lower beef prices. But between 2015 and 2018, the prices of cattle declined significantly, while the price of beef remained high. This is compared to the time before 2015, when the prices of cattle and beef “moved in tandem.”
The lack of this “fundamental economic relationship,” the suit says, points to an agreement between the four meatpacking defendants to not compete on the price of beef.
How a Class Action Lawsuit Can Help
The alleged anticompetitive behavior between the meatpackers means those who purchased beef directly may have paid artificially high prices. A lawsuit could help these companies get back the difference between what they paid and what they should have paid.
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