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Retailer antitrust suit targets ‘Big 4’ meat packers

CHICAGO, ILL – Tyson Foods, Inc, Cargill Inc. and other major meat producers are using the colossal share of the market to limit beef supplies sold to U.S. wholesalers in order to inflate prices and the profits, supermarket company Giant Eagle said in a lawsuit filed last week in Illinois federal court.

Giant Eagle, operating about 470 stores in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana, alleges the large packing companies including Cargill, National Beef, JBS, Tyson, and several of their subsidiaries, exploited their market power by conspiring to limit the supply of beef sold to purchasers beginning as early as January 2015 and continuing through the end of 2021.

The suit contends the defendants colluded to cut production and artificially constrain the supply of boxed and case-ready beef entering the supply chain to artificially inflate beef prices.

Giant Eagle is a privately held grocery retailer with more than $9.7 billion in annual sales. The company seeks treble damages with the lawsuit

Earlier this year, JBS settled a lawsuit brought against the company and three other “Big Meat” processors by a group of grocers and wholesalers. The plaintiffs argued that JBS, Tyson Foods, Cargill and National Beef manipulated the cattle supply to drive up beef prices.

Grocery organizations involved in class-action litigation against the nation’s meat conglomerates include Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative and Central Grocers.

Although JBS agreed to a $52.5 million settlement, the Brazilian meat company with U.S. headquarters in Colorado did not admit liability in price fixing.

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