Report: ‘Potato cartel forced Americans to pay higher prices for their fries’

Melanie WilliamsUS potato-grower cooperatives in the early 2000’s deployed drones and scanned satellite images as they colluded to reduce the amount of potatoes grown across the country in an effort to increase their profits, according to a report by California State University, Northridge business law professor Melanie Stallings Williams. “If you had a potato in the last decade or so, then you paid significantly more because of widespread collusion in the potato industry,” Williams said. “Every time you went to McDonald’s, every time you had something that had potato starch added to it, you paid more.” Williams and her colleagues published their findings in a report titled “The OPEC of Potatoes: Should Collusive Agricultural Production Restrictions Be Immune from Antitrust Law Enforcement?” in the winter 2017 edition of Virginia Law & Business Review. Their report is the result of an investigation of American potato farmers as part of an antitrust, class-action lawsuit brought by potato buyers against the United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) and the United Potato Growers of Idaho (UPGI), collectives of farmers and agricultural cooperatives that agreed to reduce the output of potatoes. The collectives settled the lawsuit in 2015 before it went to court. More