Sysco Corporation (SYY), a food service distributor that was founded in 1969 and is headquartered in Houston, filed a lawsuit in the Houston Federal Court on Friday, June 24, 2022. The complaint accuses some of the world’s largest meat companies of conspiring to inflate the price of wholesale beef in the United States as early as 2015.
The defendants include Cargill, Inc., Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation (A/K/A Cargill Protein A/K/A Cargill Protein – North America), JBS S.A., JBS USA Food Company, Swift Beef Company, JBS Packerland, Inc., National Beef Packing Company, Tyson Foods, Inc., Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., which according to the lawsuit, the defendants “sold approximately 80 percent of the more than 25 billion pounds of fresh and frozen beef supplied to the U.S. market. Collectively, they controlled approximately 81–85 percent of the domestic cattle processed (or slaughtered) in the market throughout the since 2015.” In contrast, “The next largest meatpacker had only a 2–3 percent market share”
The lawsuit comes after the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) launched investigations back in June of 2020 to determine whether or not the defendants fixed beef prices in the United States.
The lawsuit also alleges that the “Operating Defendants capitalized on the fundamental mechanism of supply and demand operating in a beef market vulnerable to successful cartel formation and operation, and illegally collaborated to restrain and manage the production of beef in the United States.”
Sysco Corporation is seeking injunctive relief and treble damages applicable under the antitrust laws of the United States.