At this time of the year, chocolate is as festive as Christmas lights and reindeer. Amateur bakers look to make holiday fudge for gifts and office parties. Also, children want to make brownies and chocolate chip cookies in anticipation of Santa Claus making a visit. For those who bake, it does not come as a surprise that the cost of chocolate has steadily risen. They may not have drawn a connection to intentional pricing schemes because all other baking materials have become more expensive. Nevertheless, it seems fitting that a class action lawsuit involving chocolate pricing has recently been certified.
A federal judge in Pennsylvania has certified a class of chocolate purchasers in the matter of In re: Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust Litigation. According to a report produced by TopClassActions.com, the case was created to consolidate a number of class actions that arose after German and Canadian investigations revealed a price-fixing scheme among some of the largest chocolate producing manufacturers in the world.
Notable names include Nestle, Mars, Hershey, and Cadbury. While speculation abounds as to whether the companies specifically colluded with each other to inflate chocolate prices, one study supporting the Plaintiffs’ claims found that the cost of chocolate rose nearly 40 percent between 2004 and 2008. While the collusion investigations took place in 2008, the price-fixing allegations go back to 2002.
The classes of Plaintiffs in the case include direct purchasers (restaurants and other confection makers), indirect end-users (consumers), and indirect purchasers that purchased the chocolate for resale.
Source: TopClassActions.com, Judge Certifies Class in Chocolate Price-Fixing Class Action Lawsuit, December 18, 2012