Reuters reported Wednesday that pork products giant Smithfield Foods said it will pay $83 million in settlement to resolve accusations levied against it and several other meat producers of pork price-fixing and supply manipulation in a conspiracy that allegedly began in 2009.
The report said Smithfield's payment resolves antitrust claims against it from direct purchasers that include Maplevale Farms — one of the firms that accused large meat suppliers in the litigation that also includes JBS USA, Tyson Foods, Hormel Foods and data provider Agri Stats Inc.
The settlement is through the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, where it still requires approval by Chief Judge John Tunheim. The case is Re Pork Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, No. 18-01776.
According to Reuters, Smithfield's chief information officer said the settlement eliminates a "substantial portion" of the company's exposure in the litigation and that it denied liability, believing that its conduct was always lawful.
Separately, Smithfield and the aforementioned companies are also defendants in another price-fixing litigation case in Minneapolis brought by commercial and other indirect pork buyers that include restaurants and delis. Meanwhile, yet another case in Chicago federal court is still in litigation regarding major meat producers of conspiring in price-fixing of broiler chickens.