According to one website, popular canned tuna maker StarKist has admitted to fixing the price of the beloved lunch time protein source and now faces a $100 million fine that has been imposed by the all mighty Tuna Council (yes, the Tuna Council is a real Thing). So if you thought all along that tuna prices seemed a little crazy, looks like you were right about this conspiracy.
StarKist plead guilty to the felony price fixing charge back in October. Apparently, they colluded with Bumble Bee, and Chicken of the Sea (making up the Big Three in the Tuna Industry) executives to maintain artificially high tuna prices between 2010 and 2013.
Court records revealed that the scheme began when Chicken of the Sea attempted to buy the struggling Bumble Bee in 2015 to form a mega duo in an effort to beat StarKist as the biggest tuna supplier in the US. A food wholesaler in New York, Olean Wholesale Grocery Cooperative, realized something fishy was going on when it noticed that raw tuna prices had fallen but canned tuna prices stayed high. Olean then filed a lawsuit to stop the merger and keep competition in the market place.
After the merger was blocked, Chicken of the Sea execs folded and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators in exchange for immunity in the collusion case. Then last year, Bumble Bee Foods admitted to the plan and pleaded guilty to the same charge paying a $25 million fine.
As a result of the charges, two former Bumble Bee execs and one from StarKist have plead guilty to price-fixing charges and await sentencing. The former Bumble Bee CEO Christopher Lischewski was indicted but has pleaded not guilty.