General Mills is among several food manufacturers who have been awarded $17.7 million by a federal jury in a long-running case against egg suppliers. The decision was handed down Friday in the Northern District of Illinois.
Under federal law the damages are automatically tripled, which would bring the total award to $53.1 million.
Kraft Foods, Kellogg, General Mills and Nestle USA originally filed the antitrust lawsuit in 2011, charging that egg suppliers controlled the supply of eggs to drive up prices.
Golden Valley-based General Mills declined to comment Monday. The law firm representing the food companies, Jenner & Block, said in a statement the damages represent "overcharges they paid due to a conspiracy to inflate the prices of eggs by the nation's largest egg producers and two industry groups."
After a trial lasting more than five weeks, the jury previously found on Nov. 21 that the egg suppliers were liable for illegally inflating prices. Jurors determined that the price-fixing occurred between 2004 and 2008.
Defendants in the case are Cal-Maine Foods, United Egg Producers, United States Egg Marketers and Rose Acre Farms. The egg suppliers are now weighing legal options, including a possible appeal.
Cal-Maine and Rose Acre are the top two egg producers in the U.S. and have faced more recent allegations of inflating prices amid the bird flu outbreak that killed millions of egg-laying hens last year. Egg prices reached record levels about a year ago but have fallen significantly in 2023.
As of October, the average national price of a dozen eggs was $2.07, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prices peaked at an average of nearly $5 per dozen in January.
The lawsuit brought by food companies centered around conspiring to limit the domestic supply of eggs in order to drive prices higher, according to Jenner & Block. That included "short-term measures such as early slaughter, early molting and flock reduction" as well as an increase of international exports, the firm said.