ADM has agreed to pay $45 million to settle price-fixing allegations levelled against its Golden Peanut division, according to The Wall Street Journal.
With the settlement, the company aims to resolve a civil lawsuit filed by around 12,000 US peanut farmers, who have accused leading processors of colluding to keep down prices paid to growers.
According to the lawsuit, the two largest US peanut processors – Birdsong Peanuts and ADM’s Golden Peanut unit – jointly handle 80-90% of the country’s peanuts. Olam International is said to handle around 10%.
ADM’s peanut-processing division has been accused of coordinating with the other processors to report inaccurate supply and pricing data, keeping prices for growers low over a six-year period.
The allegations include that ADM, as well as Birdsong and Olam, overreported peanut inventory totals to make the market appear oversupplied, allowing them to quote low prices.
A spokeswoman for ADM, cited by The Wall Street Journal, said that the company denies any wrongdoing in the matter and settled the lawsuit to avoid expending more time and money on it.
“ADM has been building strong relationships with farmers since the company’s inception in 1902, and we continue to make farmers the centre of our business,” she said.
In separate settlement deals reached late last year, Birdsong and Olam agreed to pay a combined $58 million.
Along with ADM, both companies deny the civil litigation’s allegations of wrongdoing, including around pricing and inventory data, and the accusations of collusion and quoting unfair prices.
US agriculture giants in other sectors have also recently faced price-fixing allegations, with Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods reaching a deal earlier this year to settle claims made by a group of poultry buyers.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2022
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