Kraft, Kellogg, other food producers sue producers over egg prices

Egg producers have been accused of inflating prices
calendar icon 23 August 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Kraft, Kellogg and other major food-processing manufacturers have won a federal court ruling that will let them use key export data at an antitrust trial seeking more than $110 million in damages from egg producers accused of artificially inflating prices, reported Reuters.

US District Judge Steven Seeger in Chicago said in a Monday order that Kraft and the other plaintiffs, including General Mills and Nestle, can argue at trial that United Egg Producers and others schemed to export eggs to drive down domestic supply in the US in order to charge higher prices here.

"The evidence supports one of plaintiffs' core theories of liability supporting a single conspiracy to restrain trade," Seeger wrote in his order. "The jury will decide who to believe."

The egg producers sought to bar any evidence of egg exports at trial, which is set to begin on Oct. 17 with a liability phase. The other defendants are United States Egg Marketers, Cal-Maine Foods and Rose Acre Farms.

Lawyers for the egg companies argued that Kraft and the other plaintiffs could not prove that exporting eggs caused prices to rise in the US.

The defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

Representatives from United Egg Producers and the other defendants on Tuesday did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Spokespeople for Kraft, Kellogg, General Mills and Nestle did not immediately respond to a comment request.

The case before Seeger previously was part of multidistrict litigation that was consolidated in Philadelphia federal court for pretrial hearings. The case returned to the Northern District of Illinois in 2019.

Kraft and the other plaintiffs point to instances between 2002 and 2008 when eggs allegedly were sent out of the US to limit supply and drive up prices.

The plaintiffs claim increased egg exports were part of a broad scheme to inflate prices in the US They alleged the defendants also agreed to certain measures to reduce the number of hens to curb supply.

The trial will be the third in the litigation.

A jury in 2018 ruled for Rose Acre and two other producers, in a case filed by so-called direct purchasers. The 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the defense win. In 2019, other plaintiffs including supermarkets lost at trial.

Lawyers for the two sides have said the trial is expected to last about five weeks.

The case is Kraft Foods Global Inc v. United Egg Producers Inc, US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, No. 11-cv-8808.

For plaintiffs: Brandon Fox of Jenner & Block

For United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers: Robin Sumner and Robert Browne Jr of Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.