ConAgra Foods denies antitrust allegations

ConAgra Foods denies antitrust allegations

Maxim Marketing Corporation has accused US food giant ConAgra Foods and local retailer Trader Joe's of breaking competition law and demanded damages of US$60m for the "destruction" of the group's peanut butter filled pocket pretzel business.

According to Maxim CEO Terry Kroll, the small California-based business had supplied Trader Joe's with peanut butter pocket pretzels for 25 years.

In 2013, the pretzel maker that supplied Maxim was bought out by ConAgra and subsequently cancelled its supply deal with the group. "Soon thereafter, ConAgra began selling the identical pretzels - down to the exact same bag - to Trader Joe's," Kroll said.

Maxim has filed a lawsuit with the Los Angeles County Superior Court for breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations and violation of California antitrust law.

"The lawsuit alleges that the actions of Trader Joe's and ConAgra breach a number of their obligations to Maxim and also violated California antitrust law, the Cartwright Act, which allows for treble damages and attorney's fees," Kroll said.

ConAgra insisted that the allegations contained in the lawsuit were groundless. "While we don't comment on pending litigation, we find this lawsuit to be without merit and intend to vigorously defend this litigation," a spokesperson for the company told just-food.

Trader Joe's was unavailable for comment at time of press.