Hershey, Nestle and Mars were alleged to have fixed prices in the US between 2002-2007

Hershey, Nestle and Mars were alleged to have fixed prices in the US between 2002-2007

The US court of appeals has upheld a dismissal of an antitrust lawsuit against confectioners Hershey, Mars Inc and Nestle.

An appeal was filed by retailers Kroger, Safeway and Walgreen against a 2014 decision to dismiss the case which alleged the three had conspired to fix prices in the US three times between 2002 and 2007.

In the latest decision on the case, the court ruled there was insufficient grounds to overturn the earlier decision.

"Lacking direct evidence, the plaintiffs rely on circumstantial evidence to raise a reasonable inference of a conspiracy. The District Court found, and the parties do not dispute, that the plaintiffs presented sufficient evidence of parallel pricing.

"Although our analysis does not exactly mirror the District Court’s, we agree with the District Court’s conclusion: the evidence in this case calls for summary judgment in favour of the chocolate manufacturers," read a court filing.

The ruling follows a decision last week from the Public Prosecution Service in Canada to drop a case against Mars, two years after accusing the Snickers maker of conspiring with Nestle and Hershey.

The Canadian body did continue with charges against Nestle Canada and its former president, Robert Leonidas.

The charges stemmed from an investigation launched in July 2007, after the bureau was contacted by Cadbury Adams Canada Inc. The Bureau’s investigation allegedly uncovered evidence that Nestlé Canada Inc., ITWAL Ltd.,

Mars Canada Inc., Robert Leonidas, Sandra Martinez and David Glenn Stevens were allegedly involved in an agreement to fix the prices of chocolate confectionery products in Canada.

Hershey had pleaded guilty to charges in June 2013.