HOUSTON — Wholesale restaurant food distributor Sysco Corp. filed a lawsuit against the world’s largest meat processors, claiming they colluded to fix beef prices.

Filed on June 24, the complaint accused Tyson Foods Inc., JBS USA, Cargill and National Beef Packing Co. of manipulating the beef market.

Beginning as early as 2015, the meat processors “exploited their market power in this highly concentrated market by conspiring to limit the supply, and fix the prices, of beef sold to Plaintiff in the US wholesale market,” the lawsuit alleged.

A former Swift employee, whose identification remains confidential, confirmed Sysco’s allegations, according to the court documents.

The four companies hold over 80% of the domestic cattle market, while the next largest meat processor holds a 2% to 3% share, the lawsuit said.

The companies on trial have faced previous accusations regarding price fixing.

Since June 2020, the US Department of Justice has been investigating beef-pricing practices dating back to January 2015, but the DOJ has not yet made an official report on its investigation.

JBS paid a $52.3 million settlement in a beef price-fixing case and $12.75 million settlement in a pork price-fixing case, but JBS, Cargill, National Beef and Tyson deny any allegations of price fixing.