McDonald’s has accused 12 of the largest pork producers — including Smithfield, Tyson, JBS and Hormel — of conspiring to fix the price of pork. The fast food giant filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Eastern New York on Nov. 25.
The lawsuit alleges that the meat companies worked together from roughly 2008 to the present to “restrict output and limit production” for the purpose of increasing and stabilizing pork prices. The lawsuit also includes Agri Stats, claiming that the agricultural research company worked with the meat producers to fix prices using its analytical data.
The restaurant chain, known for its McRib pork sandwich, requested a jury trial. It also requested treble damages from the pork processors, which are three times the amount of actual monetary damages the company incurred based on the jury’s determination, according to Cornell Law’s Legal Information Institute. Food Dive reached out to Tyson, JBS, Hormel and Smithfield for comment but had not heard back from the companies as of press time.
The restaurant chain previously sued Tyson and poultry processor Pilgrim's Pride in 2021 when it alleged that the meat giants worked together to increase chicken prices.
Price-fixing lawsuits against meat processors have proliferated throughout the food industry in recent years. Restaurants and foodservice companies have alleged years-long schemes to increase artificially the price of various meat products. In July, Sysco, the largest distributor of wholesale food in the country, sued the four largest beef providers — Cargill, JBS, Tyson and National Beef — for conspiring to drive up the price of beef.
Not all the legal cases have succeeded. In 2019, a federal judge dismissed a class action lawsuit against the largest pork companies, with a ruling that there was not enough data to prove the meat producers drove up prices together. Earlier this year, executives from Pilgrim’s Pride and Claxton Poultry were found not guilty of fixing the price of poultry by a federal jury.