Fresh egg producer Cal-Maine Foods Inc. is shelling out $28 million to end antitrust claims.
The case dates back to January 2011 when food services giant Sodexo Inc. filed suit against the country’s largest egg trade group, which included Cal-Maine, claiming antitrust violations. Sodexo accused the group of limiting the domestic supply of eggs by killing hens, claiming it was trying to treat them more humanely by making more cage room for them, but in reality it drove wholesale egg prices up 40 percent.
"The largest retailers and egg buyers in the country, including many of our customers, in fact, were fully aware of, and explicitly supported, the industry-wide animal welfare guidelines challenged in this litigation," Cal-Maine’s CEO Dolph Baker said in a statement.
Baker went on to say that the Department of Agriculture supported the guidelines and other conduct the plaintiffs were challenging.
The $28 million agreement settles all direct purchase class claims in the antitrust case and eliminates the company’s exposure to antitrust litigation.
"We remain confident that our conduct has at all times been lawful, appropriate and fair to our customers," Baker said.
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