Thai Union’s Chicken of the Sea settles antitrust lawsuit from Walmart
San Diego, CA — Thai Union Group’s US shelf stable operation has reached an agreement with Walmart resolving antitrust claims brought by the retailer, according to a statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tri-Union Seafoods, which trades as Chicken of the Sea International, will pay a cash settlement and the two companies will participate in a series of joint programs and new product promotions in Walmart stores.
These activities will include the launch of new innovative products across Walmart stores.Walmart is the largest retailer for canned tuna in the US.
The settlement reflects the company’s status as the first tuna producer to engage the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as a whistleblower in the probe of price fixing in the tuna sector, Christianna Reed, vice president and general counsel, legal and risk management, said.
The revelation of the DOJ probe meant there has been a deluge of civil claims from retailers, foodservice firms, consumers and other end buyers, alleging they have been harmed by the activity.
"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Walmart that includes a series of continuing programs and promotions. The canned tuna industry has been and remains a low-margin business, which is particularly challenging for a player of Chicken of the Sea International's size,” said Reed.
“This resolution is a significant achievement for Chicken of the Sea International and the newly appointed leadership team. We look forward to reaching additional pragmatic solutions to resolve the ongoing litigation. Our partnerships with retailers are important to the success of our business," said Darren Parsons, vice president, retail sales and business development.
Last May, Walmart filed an amended complaint against Thai Union and its US operation, as well as Bumble Bee Foods and StarKist & Co, as well as others.
In the class-action lawsuit, the retailer also listed 56 major industry players who allegedly took part.