Packers win dismissal of U.S. pork price-fixing suits

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Reuters — A federal judge on Thursday dismissed antitrust lawsuits accusing several large U.S. pork companies of conspiring to limit the supply of pork to inflate prices and their own profits at the expense of consumers and other purchasers.

Chief Judge John Tunheim of the federal court in Minneapolis said the plaintiffs failed to show “parallel conduct” to support an inference that the companies conspired illegally.

The defendants included Hormel Foods, JBS USA, Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods, among others.

Tunheim’s decision covered 13 lawsuits brought on behalf of three groups of plaintiffs.

These included ordinary consumers who bought pork at grocery stores or through other channels for their own use, purchasers who bought pork directly from the companies, and “indirect” purchasers who bought pork for commercial food preparation.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The dismissal was without prejudice, meaning the plaintiffs may amend their complaints.

— Reporting for Reuters by Jonathan Stempel in New York.

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