Chicken of the Sea Settles Antitrust Lawsuit With Retailers, Distributors

Chicken of the Sea Settles Antitrust Lawsuit With Retailers, Distributors
Chicken of the Sea has agreed with 29 companies to settle antitrust claims arising from an alleged conspiracy to fix shelf-stable tuna prices in the United States

Seafood provider Chicken of the Sea International (COSI) has come to an agreement with 29 grocery retailers and distributors resolving their antitrust claims. Under the terms of the agreement, COSI will pay a cash settlement and work with the companies to promote Chicken of the Sea products.

The companies that agreed to the settlement with COSI are Affiliated Foods Inc.; Affiliated Foods Midwest Cooperative Inc.; Alex Lee Inc.; Associated Food Stores Inc., Associated Grocers of New England Inc., Bashas’ Inc., Big Y Foods Inc., Brookshire Brothers Inc., Brookshire Grocery Co., Certco Inc., Dollar Tree Distribution Inc., Greenbrier International Inc., Family Dollar Stores Inc., Family Dollar Services LLC, Fareway Stores Inc., The Golub Corp., Giant Eagle Inc., Kmart Corp., K-VA-T Food Stores Inc., Marc Glassman Inc., McLane Co. Inc., Meadowbrook Meat Co. Inc., Merchants Distributors LLC, Schnuck Markets Inc., SpartanNash Co., URM Stores Inc., Western Family Foods Inc., Woodman’s Food Market Inc., 99 Cents Only Stores LLC and all of their affiliates.

The agreement comes in the wake of COSI’s separate settlement with Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart Inc. this past May. 

The mega-retailer filed suit in 2016 against the so-called "big three" tuna providers – COSI, Starkist and Bumble Bee – alleging a conspiracy to fix prices of shelf-stable seafood sold in the United States. Other major U.S. grocers that have sued the companies, however, including Wegmans Food Markets, The Kroger Co., Albertsons Cos., Hy-Vee, Publix Super Markets and Meijer, have not as yet reached settlements.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with these companies, who are important partners to COSI,” said Christianna Reed, VP and general counsel at El Segundo, Calif.-based COSI, which now has a revamped management team. “This demonstrates our commitment to putting this matter behind us and further strengthens our valued customer partnerships.” 

COSI was the first tuna producer to become a whistleblower in the U.S. Department of Justice’s shelf-stable seafood industry criminal antitrust investigation, in which StarKist and Bumble Bee, as well as executives from the companies, have pleaded guilty and former Bumble Bee President and CEO Christopher Lischewski has been indicted.

“We greatly value our retail partners, and we are pleased this matter is resolved,” added Darren Parsons, COSI’s VP, retail sales and business development. “The agreement ensures that, together with our partners, we can continue to provide customers the healthy, sustainably sourced seafood products they expect from us.”

Tri-Union Seafoods LLC, dba Chicken of the Sea International, provides tuna, salmon, clams, crab, oysters, shrimp, mackerel, kipper snacks and sardines in cans, cups and pouches.

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