Dec 1 (Reuters) - Canada's Supreme Court said on
Thursday it will hear a case that alleges producers of
high-fructose corn syrup, including U.S. agribusiness giants
Cargill Inc and Archer Daniels Midland Co, conspired to fix the
The case involves efforts to set up a class action lawsuit.
It was brought by Sun-Rype Products Ltd, a Canadian
juice and fruit-snack company based in British Columbia, and by
a consumer representing potential individual claimants.
The decision to hear the appeal signals at least a partial
defeat for the producers, since it keeps alive the prospect of
individual consumers, who are considered indirect purchasers,
joining the class action. However, the high court also agreed to
hear appeals by the grain companies on aspects of lower court
"We respect the legal process and have always believed
the case was frivolous and without merit," said Cargill
spokeswoman Nicole Reichert.
The case was launched in 2006 and relates to
transactions in the 1990s.
Sun-Rype Chief Financial Officer Don VanderZwaag and a
spokeswoman for ADM declined to comment on the case. Lawyers
representing consumers and some other producers could not be
reached for immediate comment.
The United States is the biggest consumer and manufacturer
of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and soft-drink makers are
the largest users.
The sweetener was added to beverages such as
Coca-Cola in the early 1980s. But U.S. food makers have been
edging away from it in recent years, returning to sugar in some
products after studies linked corn syrup to obesity.
HFCS has regained market share recently amid surging sugar
prices. Mexico and Canada are big importers of HFCS.
In 2004, an Illinois court ordered a settlement of a corn
syrup price-fixing class action that dated back to 1995. Cargill
agreed to the settlement but said it conducted no illegal
In a 1996 settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, ADM
agreed to pay $100 million for fixing the prices of two smaller
products, lysine and citric acid.
The case is Sun-Rype Products Ltd. et al. v. Archer Daniels
Midland Company et al. (B.C.) (Civil) (By Leave)
(Reporting by Rod Nickel and Randall Palmer;
additional reporting by Christine Stebbins and Karl Plume)
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