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Hurst’s lawsuit contends Sinclair excluding competition in fruit labeling industry

Hurst International LLC, a Southern California manufacturer of the machinery that applies labels to fruits and vegetables purchased at grocery retailers, has filed a lawsuit against competitor Sinclair Systems International in federal court claiming that Sinclair is engaging in unlawful and competitively exclusionary conduct, such as below-cost pricing and entering into contracts in an effort to charge higher prices in markets where Hurst does not compete.

In its lawsuit, Hurst claims that Sinclair is the largest manufacturer of fruit-labeling application equipment, with an estimated market share of over 70 percent. Hurst is seeking the court’s assistance to stop Sinclair from continuing to engage in anticompetitive conduct, which includes providing customers with free equipment, free labels and labels offered at deep discounts for the purpose of locking out competition and maintaining its market share.

Hurst claims that these practices result in an anti-competitive environment for all of Sinclair’s competitors. The purpose of the suit is to ensure a “level playing field” for all labeling companies and allow the produce industry the ability to adopt critical new technologies that vastly increases food safety.

"Sinclair denies Hurst’s allegations and intends to vigorously defend against Hurst’s claims in the lawsuit," said Colin P. Woodward, chief executive officer of Sinclair. "Sinclair has at all times competed lawfully and in full compliance with the antitrust laws; Hurst’s allegations of anticompetitive conduct are meritless. Sinclair’s success is the result of the high quality of its products and its extraordinary level of customer service. Sinclair remains focused on serving its customers and will not be distracted from that mission."