Canned tuna giant Bumble Bee Foods, has agreed to pay the justice department $25m for their plans “to fix, raise, and maintain the prices of packaged seafood” from 2011-2013.
Wait, you mean those generic cans of second-rate tuna at the store?
Yup, those guys. Apparently in this $17B industry, it’s sink or swim
Canned tuna is in troubled water
Due to concerns over mercury levels and nets killing dolphins, America’s demand for tuna has been steadily declining.
So with the whole industry hurting, BumbleBee decided it would be easy fishing for an ol’ monopoly buddy to raise prices to make up for lost sales.
We’re not sure who the partner was (the brief only mentions a “co-conspirator A”) but a likely culprit is another member of the “Big 3” — Starkist or Chicken of Sea — who along with BumbleBee control 75% of the canned tuna market.
So what was it worth it?
Exact figures weren’t mentioned, but we do know that in 2014 alone BumbleBee profited $145m, meaning a $25m fine for jacking up prices over 3 years is really just a slap on the wrist. Oh, and they’re also shrinking cans sizes.