Jury Finds Egg Producers Conspired to Reduce Supply

Defendants included Rose Acre Farms, the family company of Senate candidate John Rust
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 23, 2023 11:16 AM CST
Egg Producers Found Liable for Price-Fixing
In this July 28, 2012 file photo, chicken eggs are transported by conveyor belt from the production side to the packaging side at Rose Acre Farms Inc. in Cortland, Ind.   (Aaron Piper/The Tribune via AP, File)

An Illinois jury ruled this week that several major egg producers conspired to limit the country's supply of eggs in order to raise prices in a case stemming from a federal lawsuit originally filed 12 years ago, per the AP. Kraft Foods, the Kellogg Company, General Mills, and Nestle USA alleged in the lawsuit originally filed in 2011 that producers used various means to limit the US domestic supply of eggs to increase the prices of eggs and egg products during the 2000s, causing them to overpay for eggs. The time frame of the conspiracy was an issue throughout the case; jurors ultimately determined damages occurred between 2004-2008. A jury unanimously delivered its verdict Tuesday in the Northern District of Illinois and damages will be decided in a trial scheduled for next week.

The jury found the egg suppliers and trade groups who participated in the conspiracy were Cal-Maine Foods, United Egg Producers, United States Egg Marketers, and Rose Acre Farms, the family company of John Rust, who's running for Indiana's US Senate seat in 2024. Court documents show the defendants denied the claims. However, the jury found the egg suppliers exported eggs to reduce the overall supply in the domestic market, as well as limiting the number of chickens through means including cage space, early slaughter, and flock reduction, court documents say.

Bloomberg Law reports lawyers for Cal-Maine Foods "appeared stunned by the verdict," with two lawyers dropping their heads to their chests and leave them there. For the first time, the defendants have been held liable for their antitrust violations," Brandon Fox, an attorney representing the food manufacturers, said in a statement. "We are now going to turn our attention to the damages phase." Bloomberg Law reports the same jury will decide the damages amount in a trial slated for next Wednesday, and whatever number they settle on will be trebled. (More price fixing stories.)

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