This week the largest food distribution company in the United States, Sysco Corp., became the latest company to file a lawsuit against the four largest meat processing companies for conspiring to artificially inflate beef prices over the last several years.
According to the Washington Post, Sysco filed a federal lawsuit in Texas against Tyson Foods, JBS, Cargill and National Beef. The suit accuses them of working together to purposely suppress the number of cattle being slaughtered across the United States in order to drive supply down and inflate beef prices. The suit alleges the practice may have been employed by the meat companies since as early as 2015.
Sysco also claims the suppression of slaughter numbers resulted in driving down the price the meat processors paid the ranchers, further increasing the profit gained by the processors as prices for consumers also went up.
According to the suit, an unnamed source who used to work in the meat industry provided information regarding the alleged conspiracy and confirmed the companies did conspire to drive up beef prices. Restaurants, grocery stores, ranchers and many others have previously filed similar suits against the meat processors in the beef, chicken and pork spaces.
The suit says the companies “exploited their market power in this highly concentrated market by conspiring to limit the supply, and fix the prices, of beef sold.”
While most of the processing companies did not respond to the allegations in the Sysco suit, Cargill spokesperson Daniel Sullivan said this week he “is confident in [Cargill’s] efforts to maintain market integrity and conduct ethical business. We believe the claims lack merit and intend to vigorously defend our position.”
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WALL STREET JOURNAL
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