Peanut Farmers Settlement Grows to $102 Million

Wednesday, June 02, 2021 6:02 AM By FPS

First Filing Deadline: 7/13/2021

The lawsuit claims that Defendants conspired to suppress competition and to pay depressed prices for Runner Peanuts purchased from farmers in the United States, in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The class action plaintiffs alleged that the defendants used their 80-90% market share in the peanut shelling industry to facilitate a price fixing conspiracy to depress the price of runner peanuts. The peanut farmers filed their antitrust class action lawsuit in September 2019, arguing that Olam Peanut Shelling, Birdsong and Golden Peanut conspired together to reduce the price of runner peanuts. This alleged price-fixing was reportedly made possible through the three companies’ significant monopoly.

Together, the companies reportedly control around 80% of the peanut-shelling industry. When peanut farmers sold their runner peanuts — a popular peanut variety used to make peanut butter and other snacks — to the defendants, they were allegedly forced to sell their crops for a much lower price than was reasonable. After the defendants shelled the peanuts, they allegedly turned around and sold the products for a high price to candy companies and other manufacturers who use the peanuts.

The farmers contend the illegal conspiracy to “drive down the prices they paid America’s peanut farmers for their hard work” stemmed from a record year in 2012 that resulted in increased prices. In response to this drastic change in price, the companies allegedly agreed to conspire together to suppress and maintain the price of peanuts. These practices reportedly violated federal antitrust laws and cause significant financial harm to peanut farmers who had worked hard for their crops.

The Court's decision regarding the settlement affects those persons or entities in the United States who sold Runner Peanuts to Golden Peanut Company LLC, Birdsong Corporation, and Olam Peanut Shelling Company (or their subsidiaries or affiliates) from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2019.

A hearing will be held on July 26, 2021, at 2:30 p.m., before the Honorable Raymond A. Jackson, United States District Judge, at the Walter E. Hoffman United States Courthouse, 600 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA 23510, Courtroom 4 (or such other courtroom as may be assigned for the hearing, or if the Court believes that it is appropriate, remotely by telephone or other electronic means), for the purpose of determining whether to approve the proposed settlement with Golden Peanut.

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