July 1, 2019
US chicken processors to be investigated for price fixing
US chicken processors Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride and Sanderson Farms are now part of a criminal investigation that was launched in late-June over allegations of price-fixing, Bloomberg reported.
Opened by the US Justice Department, the investigation is expected to increase pressure on the companies which control close to half of the US chicken market. Tyson, Sanderson Farms and Pilgrim's Pride are accused of colluding to raise the price for broiler chickens by allegedly cutting supply and manipulating prices on a weekly benchmark compiled by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, court papers revealed.
Prosecutors disclosed the grand jury probe in a court filing last month in Chicago, where civil lawsuits against more than a dozen companies in the industry are pending.
Prosecutors also intervened in the civil litigation to ask the court to suspend for six months depositions of the chicken processors' current and former employees. Tyson said it was notified on April 26 that plaintiffs in the civil cases had received a subpoena from the Justice Department.
Tyson continues to deny allegations that the company had colluded with other competitors. "We remain committed to vigorously defending ourselves against these baseless allegations," Gary Mickelson, a company spokesman, said in an emailed statement.
Sanderson Farms also intends to defend its case and described civil plaintiffs' claims as "without merit," according to its chief financial officer, Mike Cockrell.