The Giant Eagle supermarket chain in the Chicago area has filed a lawsuit against four large beef-packing companies, alleging they colluded to limit wholesale supplies of beef in a plan to push prices up.
The antitrust complaint was filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Chicago against Cargill, JBS, National Beef Packing, Tyson Foods and several subsidiaries.
The lawsuit covers the time between January, 2015, and the end of 2021.
The suit notes that the U.S. Department of Justice and United States Department of Agriculture have launched investigations into whether the processors fixed beef prices and argues "anticompetitive practices" in the highly concentrated industry have attracted congressional scrutiny.
"These practices intentionally led to shortages in the beef market. These artificial conditions, in turn, boosted the prices defendants (beef packers) charged, and which Giant Eagle had no choice but to pay, for beef.
“The results intended and achieved by defendants were higher profit margins (e.g., meat margins) than would have otherwise existed in a competitive market, and injury and damage to Giant Eagle’s businesses and property," the suit alleges.