US agribusiness company Cargill has agree to pay US$24m in a class action lawsuit relating to price fixing of a common food sweetener.

Filed almost a decade ago by 18 food manufacturers, the suit accused Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and A.E. Staley Manufacturing, a unit of Tate & Lyle of the UK, of agreeing prices for high fructose corn syrup.

The case has rumbled on since 1995. Cargill has always maintained its innocence, but now argues the cost of defending the suit would be roughly the same as settling, reported The New York Times.

The other two defendants do not necessarily share this view. ADM has declined to comment, while a spokesman for A.E. Staley said it would defend its case in court if necessary.