Egg Producers Ordered to Pay $17.7 Million in Damages in Landmark Overcharging Lawsuit: Food Giants Triumph

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Egg producers in the United States have been ordered to pay $17.7 million in damages to major food companies after being found guilty in a lawsuit alleging overcharging. The defendants include Cal-Maine Foods, Rose Acre Farms, United Egg Producers, and United States Egg Marketers.

The lawsuit was filed in Illinois federal court in 2011 by Kraft Heinz, Kellogg, General Mills, and Nestlé. They claimed that the egg producers had conspired to control supply and manipulate egg prices between 1999 and 2008.

During the trial, it emerged that the egg suppliers had exported eggs to reduce supply in the US market. They also implemented strategies such as limiting the number of hens, reducing flocks, and culling chickens earlier than usual. These actions artificially kept prices high, resulting in significant financial losses for the food companies.

Following a jury trial, it was determined that all four defendants are responsible for paying the damages. Kraft Heinz was awarded $12.83 million, Kellogg received $3.22 million, General Mills obtained $910,000, and Nestlé was granted $810,000. Under US antitrust law, the total amount could potentially be tripled to over $53 million.

Attorney Brandon Fox, representing the food manufacturers, expressed gratitude for the jury’s decision, calling it an important case. He stated that the defendants are now turning their attention to the damages phase.

Despite the guilty verdict, Cal Maine Foods maintains its innocence, denying any wrongdoing. The company contends that it did not engage in anticompetitive practices. Cal Maine Foods has petitioned the court to enter a judgment in its favor, challenging the jury’s decision.

Rose Acre Farms, another defendant, also disputes the jury’s verdict and damages award. The company believes it was not part of any egg price-fixing conspiracy and plans to explore all legal options, including post-trial relief and appeal.

In conclusion, egg producers have been ordered to pay $17.7 million in damages to food giants as a result of a lawsuit accusing them of overcharging. The trial revealed that the producers had artificially manipulated egg prices through various tactics. While the defendants may appeal the decision, this case marks the first time they have been held liable for antitrust violations.