Fibers, Flours, Grains

Kraft Heinz: Commodities Board Squealed On Us

By Pan Demetrakakes, Senior Editor

Aug 22, 2019

Kraft Heinz and Mondelēz are taking the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to court to keep it from commenting on a settlement of allegations that the companies manipulated wheat prices eight years ago.

At issue are allegations that in 2011, before Kraft Foods split into the two companies, it bought more wheat on the futures market than CFTC regulations allowed. The result was to drive down the price of wheat on the spot market, allowing Kraft to save $5 million, according to the CFTC’s complaint.

That complaint was settled by a consent decree under which Kraft Heinz and Mondelēz agreed to pay a $16 million fine. The consent decree stated that none of the parties would be allowed to discuss terms of the settlement.

However, Kraft Heinz and Mondelēz are alleging that the CFTC violated that nondisclosure clause by posting a press release on its website about it. The release quoted CFTC chairman Heath Tarbert that “market manipulation inflicts real pain on farmers by denying them the fair value of their hard work and crops.”

Kraft Heinz and Mondelēz went to federal court asking that the CFTC be held in contempt for violating the nondisclosure agreement. The CFTC removed the press release from its website but denied violating any agreement.

The tiff is the latest in a string of embarrassments for Kraft Heinz, which had to adjust its financials downward due to misconduct in procurement. The stock hit an all-time low earlier this month.