Major food companies, including Kraft, General Mills, Kellogg, and Nestle, have secured a favorable verdict from a federal jury in Chicago against top US egg producers. The producers, such as Cal-Maine Foods and Rose Acre, were found liable for unlawfully inflating prices through an alleged conspiracy to charge artificially high prices. This outcome sets the stage for a second trial to determine damages.
The antitrust trial, lasting over five weeks, involved accusations that the egg producers had “rigged” the market by collaborating to drive up prices. Cal-Maine Foods, the largest egg producer and distributor in the country, and Rose Acre, the second-largest, were among the defendants. Trade associations United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers were also held liable. All defendants denied any wrongdoing.
Representatives for Cal-Maine did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and the legal teams for the defendants remained silent as well. The next phase of the trial will see Kraft and other plaintiffs arguing for damages before the same jury.
The plaintiffs, who have not specified a damages amount, will present their case, asserting that Cal-Maine and others conspired to limit egg supply, artificially inflating prices. The defendants countered by claiming that consumer demand and independent corporate interests were the driving factors behind their business decisions.
Jenner & Block, the law firm representing the food producer plaintiffs, expressed satisfaction with the jury’s decision, emphasizing that the defendants would be held accountable. The damages trial is expected to last approximately two days, with US District Judge Steven Seeger overseeing the proceedings. The implications of this case could extend to future actions by the involved parties and potentially influence similar cases in the future.