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Judge approves Land O’ Lakes $25m settlement over alleged egg price fixing

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 24-Jul-2012
Last updated the 24-Jul-2012 at 14:26 GMT

A federal judge has given final approval to a $25m settlement from Land O’ Lakes and its subsidiaries Moark LLC and Norco Ranch over alleged egg price fixing.

Plaintiffs in the case action case include food manufacturers, ingredients firms, retailers, foodservice operators and restaurants that bought eggs from some of the nation’s biggest egg producers in 2007 and 2008, during which time they claim egg producers were involved in an industry-wide price fixing conspiracy.

US district judge Gene Pratter concluded last week that “the proposed settlement agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

In addition to the $25m settlement, defendants have also agreed to help the plaintiffs bring their case against remaining defendants by providing documents and making employees available for interview.

Egg prices in the United States skyrocketed more than 40% between August 2007 and March 2008 at the fastest rate in 30 years.

Plaintiffs accused Land O’ Lakes and its subsidiaries of taking part in an alleged conspiracy to keep US egg prices high by limiting egg production, introducing cage space requirements, and exporting eggs and hens overseas at a loss to decrease domestic supply and thereby increase prices.

A cluster of similar cases around the country were consolidated before Judge Pratter in 2008 and 2009.

Remaining defendants include United Egg Producers, US Egg Marketers, Cal-Maine Foods, Michael Foods, and Rose Acre Farms. At the time of the alleged price fixing conspiracy, the United Egg Producers trade association represented companies responsible for 96% of US egg production.

In a separate case filed late last year, The Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods, Nestlé USA and General Mills sued the United Egg Producers, United Egg Marketers, and 11 individual egg producing companies in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, accusing them of fixing egg prices for at least a decade.

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