Smithfield Foods settles pork price-fixing suit for $42M

Pork producer Smithfield Foods will pay $42 million to settle litigation filed by restaurant owners and caterers that accused the company with conspiring to increase the prices of pork, the Associated Press reported. The meat company did not admit to any wrongdoing. 

In a lawsuit dating to 2018, the plaintiffs accused several companies — including Smithfield, Hormel, JBS, Tyson and agricultural research company Agri Stats — of colluding to raise the price of pork products like ham and bacon. JBS agreed to pay $12.75 million to settle claims by restaurants and caterers in 2021, while also denying wrongdoing.

A federal judge in Minnesota will hold a hearing in October to consider approving Smithfield’s settlement with the restaurants and caterers, according to the AP, although he gave it preliminary approval in April. Blaine Finley, an attorney for one of the restaurant owners, told the wire service that the plaintiffs intend to continue their suits against the other companies involved.

“We look forward to moving for final approval of our settlement with Smithfield and continuing to litigate with the remaining defendants,” Finley said.

Smithfield had previously settled for $83 million with a different set of pork purchasers in 2021. 

Lawsuits involving charges of price fixing in the meat industry continue to play out as the Biden administration and legislators take a stricter stance on alleged anticompetitive practices at a time of high food inflation. A Department of Justice prosecution of price-fixing among poultry producers is in the midst of an unprecedented third trial, targeting executives from Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton Poultry Farms.