Third company accuses US tuna companies of price fixing


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
August 24, 2015

For the third time in a month, a company has announced it is now suing the three largest canned tuna producers in the United States, accusing the suppliers of price fixing.

Affiliated Foods, based in Amarillo, Texas, USA, is suing Bumble Bee Foods, StarKist, Tri-Union Seafoods and Norwegian seafood company King Oscar. Tri-Union is a subsidiary of Thai Union Frozen Products (TUF), which sells canned and pouched tuna in the United States under the brand name Chicken of the Sea.

The suit alleges “from at least as early as January 1, 2000,” all the defendants were involved in “a conspiracy to raise, fix, stabilize, or maintain prices, allocate customers, and restrict capacity in the market for shelf-stable packaged seafood, including tuna, clam, crab, mackerel, oyster, salmon, sardines, and shrimp.”

This is the third lawsuit the companies are facing alleging price fixing. Earlier this month, New York-based Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative and Grocervice, Inc., otherwise known as PITCO foods, of San Jose, Calif., filed separate lawsuits against Bumble, Bee, StarKist and Tri-Union.

All three lawsuits are basing the same allegations on statistics that show the demand for packaged tuna and related seafood in the United States has declined in recent years, while prices have not changed. All three claim they have suffered some sort of financial hardship dealing with one or more of the defendants. Only the most recent lawsuit, however, names King Oscar, best known for its line of sardines, as a defendant. TUF purchased King Oscar in September 2014.

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